Lots of scientists want to very badly to get ahead in their careers -- or, as the slang expression has it, they want it "in the worst way." In an odd coincidence, on December 21 two researchers who had taken that expression way too literally were sentenced in separate federal courts for crimes involving the misuse of scientific information. In unrelated cases, each had taken advantage of their expertise in fields of major commercial value to put information to illegal uses.
In New York City, according to a statement
the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Yves
Benhomou, a French physician who had worked on a clinical trial of a
treatment for hepatitis, got a sentence consisting of time served plus 3
years of supervised release after pleading guilty to conspiracy to
commit insider trading, lying to the FBI, fraud, and other charges. In
addition, the judge ordered him to repay almost $6 million of
restitution. He had pleaded guilty to passing information from the
clinical trial to a hedge fund trader who unlawfully used it to sell
stock and avoid $6 million in potential losses.
Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, according to a U.S. Justice Department statement
national Kexue Huang received a sentence of 87 months in federal prison
plus 3 years of supervised release for stealing trade secrets and
committing industrial espionage for the benefit of the Chinese
government and a Chinese university. Huang had worked as a researcher
for both the Dow and Cargill companies, two firms active in agricultural
research. He had pleaded guilty to stealing secrets from each company
and passing them on to entities in China, in violation of
confidentiality agreements he had signed with the companies. Loss of
the trade secrets, he acknowledged in his plea agreement, had a value of
more than $7 million.