COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A former employee at a Columbus manufacturing company who found himself at the center of a federal investigation will spend three years in prison.
Kevin Crow, 57, has admitted to stealing highly confidential information. He was sentenced in federal court in Albany Monday. Besides spending three years behind bars, Crow will also be on supervised release for three years and pay a $10,000 fine.
In June, Crow pleaded guilty to the Theft of Trade Secrets, a violation of the Economic Espionage Act.
According to his plea deal with the government, it all started, at a company in Thomasville, GA called Turbine Engines Components Technologies (TECT) Corporation where Crow dealt with foreign commerce and confidential trade secrets from 1979 until 2007 when he was laid off.
Crow admits that when he left TECT to work for its competitor Precision Components International off Macon Road in Columbus, he took with him close 100 CD's containing top secret information including blueprints, cost and pricing information.
Both TECT and PCI are in the business of manufacturing and selling engine blades for military aircrafts. PCI is a subsidiary of a company that has other facilities in Israel and China.
Back in April, PCI officials confirmed to WTVM they are assisting the FBI in an investigation but the company and the FBI have remained tight-lipped on that investigation.
The following is information from a press release from the United State Attorney's Office in the Middle District of Georgia following Crow's sentencing:
The defendant was an engineer employed by Turbine Engines Components Technologies Corporation (TECT) in Thomasville, Georgia, from approximately August 1979 until June of 2007, when the defendant was laid off by the company. TECT manufactures a diverse range of products related to or including trade secrets. These products range from premium forged hand tools and medical instruments to aircraft hardware and turbine engine components, all of which are related to interstate and or foreign commerce. As an employee of TECT, Crow continually provided policy statements with explicit direction on identifying trade secrets within the company and how to protect those trade secrets. During Crow's exit interview he signed a document stating that he had returned all documents containing any trade secret information to TECT, when in fact, he had taken approximately 100 computer discs containing multiple pieces of information considered trade secrets from TECT.
Crow was later employed by Precision Components International (PCI) in Columbus, Georgia, a competitor of TECT. Both companies are in the business of manufacturing and selling engine blades for military aircraft engines. After being employed with PCI, Crow made numerous contacts with employees of TECT requesting forging price sheets containing vendor and customer information. He also requested copies of TECT's 2007 and 2008 contract reviews that contained trade secret information. Crow admitted in a conversation with a TECT employee that he took computer discs, blueprints, and cost and pricing information belonging to TECT, and admitted that providing the information could be considered industrial espionage.
The United States and the Defendant, through counsel, stipulated that Turbine Engines Components Technologies Corporation (TECT) suffered losses not exceeding $14,000,000.00 (14 million dollars).
United States Attorney Michael Moore said, "This type of industrial espionage is a serious matter, especially when it involves the production of parts for our military aircraft.The damages alone to TECT and its employees might be calculated in dollars, but the potential harm to our military equipment readiness is still unknown."