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Man convicted of stealing trade secrets 4 years after feds stop him at O’Hare

O'Hare International Airport on Tuesday, March 22, 2016 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Teresa Crawford) ORG XMIT: RPTC102

A Wisconsin man who was intercepted by authorities four years ago before boarding a flight to China at O’Hare International Airport was convicted Monday of stealing his former employer’s trade secrets.

A jury found Robert O’Rourke, 59, of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, guilty of seven counts of theft of trade secrets, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Northern District of Illinois.

O’Rourke had worked at Woodstock-based Dura-Bar, a cast-iron manufacturer, since 1984, the attorney’s office said. He served as a plant metallurgist, quality assurance manager and salesperson there, helping grow the business’s footprint in locations such as China.

In September of 2015, O’Rourke accepted a vice president position at a Chinese rival firm in the province of Jiangsu, the attorney’s office said. He then siphoned data and documents from Dura-Bar without authorization two days later before officially quitting.

O’Rourke headed to O’Hare the next week with the stolen proprietary information in tow, but was thwarted by federal authorities before he could board his flight to China, the state’s attorney’s office said. Agents seized the electronic and paper documents containing the Dura-Bar trade secrets.

O’Rourke was indicted the summer of 2017, the attorney’s office said. He awaits sentencing on his June 3 court date, and each of his seven guilty counts is punishable by up to 10 years of prison.