CORNING, N.Y. (WENY) -- A former Corning Incorporated employee has been charged with economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and unlawful exports.

According to the U.S. District Court of Western New York, Ji Wang was indicted by a federal grand jury in Rochester.

According to court documents, Wang worked for  Corning Inc. between 1998 and 2019. Wang's work included optical fiber research. Wang was assigned to work on a fiber laser research project for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The $16 million dollar project resulted in a 1000-fold increase in power for the fiber lasers.

On July 1st, 2016, Wang is accused of downloading and copying private DARPA project files from Corning's network. Prosecutors say he downloaded the files to a USB thumb drive because he intended to use the files to help establish a business with another person called QuantumWave.

Prosecutors say Wang and another person were in the middle of negotiations with various governmental entities in the People's Republic of China to establish their own fiber laser business. Wang is accused of traveling to China in 2015 and 2017 to further these negotiations. He allegedly exported stolen technical data, and tried seeking millions of dollars of funding from Chinese investors.

After negotiations failed, Wang then turned to negotiations with a U.S. person to help provide funding for QuantumWave. During the course of negotiations, Wang revealed it was the same technology that was developed by DARPA.

Wang is charged with economic espionage, theft of trade secrets, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).


"We can confirm that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York announced an indictment of a former employee for theft of Corning Incorporated’s trade secrets relating to a project with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. As a company built on 170 years of innovation and integrity, Corning takes the protection and defense of its intellectual property very seriously. We will continue to monitor the case and cooperate with law enforcement as appropriate."