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Chinese woman in seed corn case released on bond

July 22, 2014

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A Chinese woman charged as part of what federal prosecutors say was a conspiracy to steal trade secrets from U.S. seed corn companies is free on bond after a judge said she is a flight risk but can be closely monitored until trial.

Mo Yun, a 42-year-old who was charged in this month with conspiring to steal trade secrets, was allowed to post $250,000 bond, must wear a GPS monitor and stay in a home in the Des Moines area between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. daily.

Mo sought a pre-trial release plan that would have allowed her to travel to China to visit her 12-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. But under the order signed Monday by Judge Robert Pratt, Mo’s travel is restricted to Iowa, although Pratt said the court will consider trips to California to see her children under strict supervision and with prior approval of the court.

“After carefully reviewing the documents filed in this case so far, the parties’ briefs, and the record made at hearing, the court agrees with Mo Yun that the government’s evidence against her is ‘thin,’ and that nothing about her history or characteristics warrants the imposition of overly restrictive conditions of release,” Pratt wrote.

Mo is one of seven people connected to Chinese agriculture biotechnology DBN Group who prosecutors say stole patented seed corn from fields in Iowa and Illinois and shipped it to China to try to reproduce its traits. The government says the stolen seed and its intellectual property value exceeds $500 million.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Griess sought to have Mo in custody until Dec. 1, the date set for trial for Mo and her brother, Mo Hailong, who is under house arrest in Des Moines. The five others charged are fugitives.

Mo Yun’s attorney, Terry Bird, argued last week that the government’s evidence is weak and based on misinterpreted instant messages between Mo and her brother.

Griess had argued the charges against Mo Yun carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, and that she may want to flee the country to avoid prosecution. He also pointed out that Mo is the wife of Shao Genhou, the chairman of DNB Group whose net worth is estimated at $1.4 billion.

The judge agreed with the government that the risk of flight is heightened by Mo’s wealth, Chinese citizenship, lack of ties to the United States, and the fact there is no extradition treaty between China and the U.S.

Mo was arrested July 1 at Los Angeles International Airport while waiting for a return flight to China. She had come to the U.S. for a Disneyland vacation with her children.

Neither a spokesman for Klinefeldt nor Bird immediately returned messages Tuesday.

Update hourly