Orange aerospace engineer Dongfan "Greg" Chung was sentenced today to nearly 16 years in federal prison for his conviction on charges of economic espionage and acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China for more than three decades.
The 73-year-old stole restricted technology and trade secrets, including information related to the Space Shuttle program and Delta IV rocket, while employed by Rockwell, where Chung went to work in 1973 and stayed up through and beyond its defense and space units being taken over by Boeing in 1996.
At today's sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in Santa Ana said he could not "put a price tag" on national security and hoped the long sentence he gave Chung would send a signal to China to "stop sending your spies here."
A native of China who is a naturalized U.S. citizen, Chung held a secret security clearance when he worked at Rockwell and Boeing on the Space Shuttle program. He retired from the company in 2002, but returned as a contractor to Boeing the following year through September 2006.
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During his three-week trial last year, the government proved to Carney that Chung stole Boeing trade secrets relating to the Space Shuttle and the Delta IV rocket and turned them over to Chinese authorities. Carney found Chung guilty of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, six counts of economic espionage to benefit a foreign country, one count of acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
"Mr. Chung betrayed his adopted country and endangered our national security," said Acting U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona. "This case demonstrates our resolve to protect the secrets that help protect the United States, as well as the important technological advancements developed by scientists working for companies that provide crucial support to our national security programs."
"The lengthy sentence imposed on Mr. Chung should send a strong message to others contemplating theft of U.S. secrets, that such criminal activity is a serious affront to the nation's stability and will be prosecuted accordingly," added Steven M. Martinez, assistant director in charge of the FBI in Los Angeles.
Chung was snared as part of an investigation into another engineer who worked in the U.S. and obtained sensitive military information for the Chinese government. Chi Mak was sentenced to 24 years behind bars.