Chinese Engineer Gets 15-Year Term for Economic Espionage

A former Rockwell International and Boeing Co. aerospace engineer who worked on the Space Shuttle program was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for economic espionage and acting as an agent for China.

Dongfan "Greg" Chung, employed by Rockwell and then Boeing from 1973 until 2006, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney in Los Angeles, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Chung, 73, was found guilty of conspiracy, six counts of economic espionage, one count of acting as a Chinese agent and one count of making false statements after a three-week bench trial last year. Chung, a naturalized U.S. citizen and a native of China, held a “secret” security clearance when he worked at Rockwell and Boeing on the Space Shuttle program, Bloomberg reports.

When federal agents arrested Chung in February 2008 they found more than 250,000 documents from Rockwell, Boeing and other aerospace companies, plus correspondence with Chinese officials, the Orange County Register writes. Chung is a naturalized U.S. citizen who began working for Rockwell in 1973. Boeing later acquired the company.

Carney called Chung's crimes a matter of national security, saying he had committed a "clear breach of the sacred trust that Boeing and this country placed on him."

Chung's attorney had argued that his client passed along only publicly available information and should serve five years. Standing handcuffed, Chung pleaded for leniency, USA Today reports.

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