Aerospace Engineer Sentenced to More than 15 Years in Prison After Being Convicted of Economic Espionage and Acting as Chinese Foreign Agent
An aerospace engineer formerly employed by Rockwell International and Boeing was sentenced on February 8, 2009 to 15 years and eight months in federal prison after being convicted on charges of economic espionage and acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Dongfan "Greg" Chung, 73, of Orange, California, was convicted in July 2009 after a 10 day bench trial held in U.S. Federal Court in Santa Ana, California on one count of acting as a foreign agent, one count of conspiring to violate the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, six counts of violating the EEA and one count of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In his written decision after the trial, United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney found that Mr. Chung had been an agent of the PRC for over thirty years.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Carney said that he could not "put a price tag" on national security, and that with the long sentence for Mr. Chung he wanted to send a signal to China to "stop sending your spies here."
The case against Mr. Chung resulted from an investigation into Mr. Chi Mak who was convicted of providing defense articles to China. Mr. Mak was sentenced in March 2008 to more than 24 years in prison. Four of Mr. Mak's family members later pleaded guilty to similar charges.
According to the evidence presented during Mr. Chung’s trial, individuals in the Chinese aviation industry began sending Mr. Chung "tasking" letters as early as 1979. Over the years, the letters directed Mr. Chung to collect specific technological information, including data related to the Space Shuttle and various military and civilian aircraft. Mr. Chung responded in one undated letter that "I would like to make an effort to contribute to the Four Modernizations of China." In various letters to his handlers in the PRC, Mr. Chung referenced engineering manuals he had collected and sent to the PRC, including 24 manuals relating to the B-1 Bomber.
Between 1985 and 2003, Mr. Chung made multiple trips to the PRC to deliver lectures on technology involving the Space Shuttle and other programs During those trips he met with PRC government officials, including agents affiliated with the People’s Liberation Army. Mr. Chung and PRC officials exchanged letters that discussed Mr. Chung’s travel to China and recommended methods for passing information, including suggestions that Mr. Chung use Chi Mak and his wife Rebecca to transmit information.
In September 2006, FBI and NASA agents searched Mr. Chung’s house and found more than 300,000 pages of documents from Boeing, Rockwell and other defense contractors inside the house and in a crawl space underneath the house. Among the documents found in the crawl space were scores of binders containing decades' worth of stress analysis reports, test results and design information for the Space Shuttle, Delta IV Rocket, F-15 fighter, B-52 bomber, CH-46/47 Chinook helicopter, and other proprietary aerospace and military technologies.
According to reports, Mr. Chung told the judge during the sentencing hearing that he had taken the information to write a book.
Mr. Chung's attorney plans to appeal.