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updated: 9/19/2012 4:04 PM

Libertyville man pleads guilty in trade secret theft

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A 49-year-old Libertyville man who worked as a senior software engineer at the Chicago-based CME Group has pleaded guilty to theft of trade secrets that would have helped him improve an electronic trading exchange in China.

Chunlai Yang was facing 10 years in federal prison, but prosecutors said a plea agreement calls for a sentencing range between 5 years and 7 years.

Federal prosecutors said Yang had downloaded more than 10,000 files containing CME software that made up a "substantial" portion of the operating system for the company's Globex electronic trading platform. The theft could have resulted in upward of a $100 million loss to the company, prosecutors said.

Yang's attorney, Edward Genson, said his client caused no financial loss to CME and was not going to benefit from the sale of the software. Instead, Yang was going to use his knowledge of the software to secure a higher-paying job elsewhere.

According to court records, Yang began stealing the software in 2010. Yang was arrested in July 2011, but has been free on bond since his arrest. He is slated for sentencing in February 2013.

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