Updated: The FBI, Recording Devices and Ford's World Headquarters

July 25, 2014, 6:36 AM


Updated: Friday, 2:17 p.m. -- More details of the FBI probe into a fired Ford Motor Co. engineer surfaced on Friday. The Detroit News reports that FBI agents seized her personal email account after searching her home and seizing secret listening devices planted inside the automaker’s headquarters.

The News reports that a federal search warrant filed Friday shows the FBI seized former Ford engineer Sharon Leach’s Gmail account, including all emails, drafts, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to the account.  The News reports that Google provided the information this week.

Ford issued a statement  Friday that it had asked the FBI for assistance in the case. (For more on the Ford statement, read below). 


Filed Friday Morning

Exciting things are happening at Ford Motor Company's world headquarters in Dearborn besides talk of the Mustang the future of electrical cars, and it involves potential corporate espionage and the FBI.

John Snell and David Shepardson of the Detroit News report that the FBI,  at the request of Ford,  is investigating one of the automaker's engineers, and they seized listening devices, computers and financial records.

Ford issued a statement Friday clarifying, that contrary to the Detroit News report, the FBI did not actually search offices at the corporate headquarters.

"Ford initiated an investigation of a now former employee and requested the assistance of the FBI," Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel said in a statement. "Ford’s offices were not searched by the agency; Ford voluntarily provided the information and items requested in the search warrant.  We continue to work in cooperation with the FBI on this joint investigation.  As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details."

The News writes that a lawyer for the mechanical engineer said Ford’s security team feared she was stealing trade secrets by hiding secret recording devices in conference rooms at headquarters, The engineer's home was also searched, the News reports.

The case is being investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Tukel, who heads the National Security Unit in Detroit,  the News reported

The News writes:

Searching a Fortune 500 company’s world headquarters instead of issuing a subpoena is a rare step and could indicate investigators were worried about someone destroying evidence, said Peter Henning, a law professor at Wayne State University and a former federal prosecutor.

Read more:  Detroit News

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