A federal grand jury in Detroit has indicted a former General Motors employee and her husband in an alleged scheme to steal information about hybrid vehicles.

Unsealed Thursday, the indictment alleges that Du, while employed with GM, provided GM trade secret information relating to hybrid vehicles to her husband for his benefit and for the benefit of  the Chinese company Millennium Technology. 

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Prosecutors say when Du was laid off by GM in 2003, before she left  she allegedly copied hundreds of documents — worth an estimated $40 million.

Prosecutors say the Troy couple shredded documents and dumped them in a bin behind a store in May 2006 after the grand jury sought information.

U.S. Attorney McQuade said, “As our auto industry works to find new areas of innovation, such as hybrid technology, we will not tolerate the theft of our trade secrets from foreign competitors,” McQuade said. “ We will aggressively prosecute people who steal from the investment that our auto industry has made in research and development,” he said.

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“Michigan, as well as the rest of the United States, is significantly impacted by the auto industry. Theft of trade secrets is a threat to national security and investigating allegations involving theft of trade secrets is a priority
for the FBI,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena.

” The FBI will continue to aggressively pursue allegations involving the theft of trade secrets,” he said.

The pair appeared in federal court in Detroit on Thursday, hours after they were arrested. Not-guilty pleas were  entered on their behalf.

If convicted, each defendent faces multiple years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

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(Copyright 2010 by WWJ. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report)