A former Boston Scientific Corp. engineer pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis on Tuesday to charges involving theft of trade secrets from the company.
Aaron Quoc Khieu, of Maple Grove, helped design specialized heart catheters for the company, a leading medical device firm that employs thousands in the Twin Cities. A federal grand jury indicted him last September on 14 counts of wire fraud and theft of trade secrets.
Khieu’s attorney Robert Sicoli said his client pleaded guilty to one felony count of stealing a trade secret, and the other counts will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.
“He has taken full responsibility for his actions and is really remorseful for his actions,” Sicoli said. “That’s why he pled guilty.”
According to the indictment, Khieu stole Boston Scientific documents by downloading onto a thumb drive more than 100 files of internal company information about balloon catheters, including technical prints, manufacturing techniques and details about product composition.
The catheters inflate surgical balloons inside blood vessels to open blocked arteries.
The alleged theft on Oct. 8, 2012, occurred about a month after Khieu e-mailed potential investors soliciting interest in the balloon-catheter company he would call Snowflake Medical, according to the charges. He also met with potential investors in Minnetonka in December 2012.
In addition, Khieu contacted a firm in Ho Chi Minh City to ask how to sell medical devices, the indictment alleged, and planned to have an unnamed competitor of Boston Scientific manufacture the balloon catheters in Vietnam for sale there, in the United States and elsewhere.
The charges mention Khieu’s interest in three devices, two of which are available on the market.
He entered his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz.
A sentencing hearing will be set probably in four to six months, Sicoli said.
The maximum sentence for the offense under statutes is 10 years, but Sicoli said that’s a guideline and that attorneys will argue for a much shorter sentence.