Ex-Boeing Engineer Sentenced for Stealing Aerospace Secrets for China

The Wall Street Journal reported that on February 8, 2010, Dongfan "Greg" Chung, a Chinese-born former Boeing engineer was sentenced to 15 years and 8 months in prison for acquiring sensitive U.S. space shuttle information and other documents for China. 

The case against Chung was the first U.S. trial on economic espionage charges. The government charged that Chung began spying for the Chinese in the late 1970s, after he became a naturalized U.S. citizen and was hired by Rockwell International, where he worked until it was acquired by Boeing in 1996. Chung stayed with Boeing until he was laid off in 2002, but a year later he was brought back as a consultant. Boeing fired Chung when FBI began its investigation in 2006. 

The government accused Chung, a stress analyst with high-level clearance, of stealing documents related to aerospace technology development while working for Rockwell and Boeing. When FBI agents searched Chung's house in 2006, they found more than 300,000 pages of documents on Boeing-developed aerospace and defense technologies. Specifically, the technologies involved an antenna developed for radar and communications on the U.S. shuttle and a fueling mechanism for a booster rocket used to launch manned space vehicles. 

During trial, Chung claimed that he had brought the documents home to write a book. Chung's lawyers argued that he may have violated Boeing policy by bringing the papers home, but he did not break any laws by doing so, and U.S. government could not prove that he had given away any sensitive information to China. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney noted in sentencing papers that Chung acquired a personal wealth of more than $3 million during his cooperation with China. 

Chung's activities were discovered while investigating Chi Mak, another suspected Chinese spy living in Southern California. In 2007, Mak was convicted of conspiracy to export U.S. defense technology to China and sentenced to 24 years in prison.