Two Wyko Tire Technology engineers are facing up to 150 years in prison after allegedly scamming their way into a Goodyear tire factory and secretly photographing its proprietary equipment.
According to a UPI report, in early 2007 Wyko secured a contract to supply the Haohau South China Guilin Rubber Co. with tire manufacturing equipment, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement.
In May of that year, Wyko engineers Sean Howley and Clark Roberts allegedly visited a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. plant in Topeka, Kan., under false pretenses. During the visit the pair "used a cell phone to surreptitiously photograph proprietary [off-the-road] tire manufacturing equipment," the DoJ said.
The photographs, which contained "valuable trade secret information," were sent to a Wyko subsidiary in Dudley, England, where they were used to build similar equipment for the Chinese tire company, according to the DoJ. The contract was worth approximately $1.2 million.
Roberts and Howley were arraigned in Knoxville, Tenn., and both denied the charges against them. If convicted, the two face up to 150 years in prison and a fine of $2.75 million on 12 counts related to theft of trade secrets and trade fraud, Justice said.