US: FBI raids former Ford engineer on corporate espionage claims image

The FBI has raided Sharon Leach, a 43-year-old Ford mechanical engineer that no longer works for the automaker. The Bureau is investigating her because of listening devices that were found while she attended meetings at company offices.

According to a media report, the FBI raided her home and took over her personal email account because the investigators found she placed secret listening devices in Ford’s World Headquarters. Google provided the information about the engineer’s personal Gmail account, as the 17-year-employee was served a search warrant that allowed the seizure of the account, including all emails, drafts, photos, phone numbers, contacts and bank accounts tied to it.

“It didn’t involve anything of a spying nature,” commented her attorney, Marshall Tauber. “She wanted to record conversations of meetings she attended but didn’t know how to do it. She was insecure about her note-taking.”

“Ford and the FBI are working together on a joint investigation involving a former employee. As this is an ongoing investigation, we are not able to provide additional details,” said Ford spokeswoman Susan Krusel.

So far, Leach – who didn’t plant the devices in rooms where high-profile executives held meetings – has not been charged. Her case though is the latest in a series of “spying” investigations that have plagued Detroit’s automakers in recent years. Most of them involve Chinese automakers, which are well known for their practice to blatantly release copycat models of foreign brands.