DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal judge said this week that a naturalized U.S. citizen from China who pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to steal seed corn must pay the U.S. companies that made the seed $425,000.
Mo Hailong, 47, was living in Florida when he was arrested in December 2013. In his plea agreement with federal prosecutors in January, he admitted to being part of a conspiracy to send stolen DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto seed corn from fields in Iowa and Illinois to China, where scientists planned to reverse engineer it to reproduce its genetic traits.
U.S. seed companies invest millions of dollars into research to develop seed traits that improve plant yields and resists pests and disease.
In a Dec. 19 judgment,a U.S. District Court in Des Moines ordered Mo to pay each company $212,500 in restitution, as well as forfeit farms near Monee, Ill., and Redfield, Iowa, to the U.S. government.