An Irvine engineer was sentenced Monday to more than two years in federal prison for stealing trade secrets from two of his former employers.

Wenfeng Lu, 46, was sentenced to 27 months behind bars by U.S. District Judge Andrew Guilford.

Lu pleaded guilty in May to six counts of unauthorized possession and attempted possession of trade secrets, according to Thom Mrozek, the public affairs officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He stole the trade secrets from two medical device companies with offices for research in Irvine, where Lu was employed from January 2009 through 2012, Mrozek added.

Lu made copies of multiple documents from his employers that contained trade secrets, took them home and then loaded them on to his laptop.

While working for the companies he would go to China multiple times, where he was planning to open a company to make devices for treating vascular ailments, prosecutors said.

“In furtherance of his business, defendant applied to the (Chinese) government for funding designed to attract technological talent from places such as the United States, and was selected to receive approximately $2 million RMB (about $328,000 USD) and free rent for a period of three years in a laboratory in a technology park located in Nanjing Province in” China, prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum.

“The money and laboratory space was part of a program sponsored by the (Chinese) government to encourage scientists of Chinese descent to return to (China) with intellectual property to develop biomedical technology in (China).”

As Lu was preparing to get on a plane to China in November 2012, authorities arrested him to prevent him from carrying out his business plan, Mrozek said.

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