Former Minnesota medical device company executive Christopher M. Barry pleaded guilty to a felony Tuesday for stealing confidential product plans and bringing them to his next employer, which was designing a similar device.
The one-count plea agreement says Barry, 46, of Medina copied six secret design files from his former employer Lutonix Inc. on April 15, 2015, and then turned in his resignation at the New Hope-based med-tech firm the next day. Barry went on to become CEO of a start-up called Urotronic, where he transferred the files onto his new work computer and shared other Lutonix trade secrets, according to court records.
Barry "stole numerous trade secret files belonging to the company so that he could utilize the proprietary information in connection with his next job," said a news release from the Minnesota U.S. attorney's office.
"Urotronic had no knowledge of or involvement with Mr. Barry's actions. When Urotronic learned of his actions, it demanded his resignation," the company said in a statement.
Tuesday, Barry pleaded guilty to a single count of theft of trade secrets before U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle in federal court in St. Paul. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The plea agreement says Barry faces a guideline sentence between 24 and 30 months in prison, with an upward adjustment because Barry abused a position of trust and a downward adjustment for his acceptance of responsibility.
Barry's defense attorney, Jim Volling of Faegre Baker Daniels, said Barry plans to ask for less prison time than is recommended in the sentencing guidelines.
"Mr. Barry recognizes that he made a poor judgment and did something that he deeply regrets," Volling said Tuesday afternoon. "I've been very impressed by Mr. Barry and his integrity, and his desire to move on with his life and accept responsibility for what happened."
Barry was vice president of research and development at Lutonix from 2007 to 2015, a position that gave him access to the company's proprietary designs for drug-coated balloons — devices that are inserted into blood vessels and precisely inflated to remove blockages. Drug-coated balloons are covered in a special formulation of a drug that aids in vessel healing after the procedure.
Most of Lutonix's $50 million in sales in 2015 came from sales of its drug-coated balloons. (Lutonix was acquired in 2011 by C.R. Bard in a $225 million deal, and today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bard.)
The criminal information filed against Barry says his key role in research gave him access to technical design documents and manufacturing details for current and future drug-coated balloon ideas, including one design intended for urological applications.
Urotronic is recruiting up to 30 people to take part in a pilot study of its device, the Urotronic Drug Coated Balloon for the treatment of urethral stricture disease, according to clinicaltrials.gov, the National Institutes of Health's database of clinical trials in the United States.
The company, listed as a minority-owned business, received at least $1 million in investments that produced tax credits of $250,000 through the Minnesota Angel Tax Credit Program in 2015, state records show.
Urotronic said the documents from Barry didn't contribute to its device design.
"Urotronic's product was developed before Mr. Barry was hired and Mr. Barry had no involvement in the development of the Urotronic technology," the company said.