On March 18, 2010, the Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a press release regarding the sentencing of Michael David Mitchell, a Virginia man, to 18 months imprisonment for theft of trade secrets and obstruction of justice. Mitchell was employed as an engineer and salesperson for DuPont for over 25 years. During his last two years of employment, Mitchell worked in the sales and marketing of Kevlar,® DuPont's registered trademark for a very light, very strong synthetic fiber that is spun into ropes or fabric sheets that can be used as such, or as an ingredient in composite material components.
After DuPont terminated his employment, Mitchell began work as a consultant for Kolon Industries, Inc. (Kolon), a DuPont competitor. In 2007, DuPont officials became aware that Mitchell had been contacting current and former employees of DuPont seeking technical information on behalf of Kolon. DuPont officials raised their concerns with FBI and Department of Commerce (DoC) investigators, who launched a joint investigation. On March 12, 2008, FBI and DoC special agents executed a federal search warrant on Mitchell's house, seizing documents and multiple computers. Forensic analysis of the defendant's computers revealed hundreds of pages of DuPont proprietary documents, along with the evidence of the above-referenced Denier Economics email.
Following the execution of the search warrant, Mitchell agreed to become a cooperator for the government during its ongoing investigation relating to possible attempted theft of trade secrets and violations of export control laws. Under the direction and supervision of federal investigators, Mitchell made numerous recorded telephone conversations and exchanged emails with Kolon employees.