Ex-Boeing Worker Gets 15 Years In Theft Of Space Shuttle Secrets <


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Ex-Boeing Worker Gets 15 Years In Theft Of Space Shuttle Secrets

By Mike Mitchell

February 10, 2010 - A former Boeing engineer, Dongfan “Greg” Chung was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison on six counts of economic espionage and acting as an unregistered foreign agent of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), for whom the engineer stole Boeing trade secrets related to several aerospace programs, including the Space Shuttle. During brief remarks, Chung, 74, begged the court for a lenient sentence, stating he had taken the information to write a book. 

At sentencing U.S. District Judge Carney said the court could not determine what information had been passed onto China but taking the “treasure trove of documents” from The Boeing Co., a key military contractor, constituted a serious crime. Judge Carney said that he could not “put a price tag” on national security, and that with the long sentence for Chung he wanted to send a signal to China to “stop sending your spies here.”

Dongfan “Greg” Chung, 73, of Orange, California, who was employed by Rockwell International from 1973 until its defense and space unit was acquired by Boeing in 1996, was arrested without incident at his residence by special agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators with NASA.

The indictment accuses Chung of eight counts of economic espionage, one count of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, one count of acting as an unregistered foreign agent without prior notification to the Attorney General, one count of obstruction of justice, and three counts of making false statements to FBI investigators. 


Chung, a native of China who is a naturalized United States citizen, 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 the next year he returned to Boeing as a contractor, a position he held until September 2006. The indictment alleged that he took and concealed Boeing trade secrets relating to the Space Shuttle, the C-17 military transport aircraft and the Delta IV rocket. Chung allegedly obtained the materials for the benefit of the PRC. 

“Certain foreign governments are committed to obtaining the American trade secrets that can advance the development of their military capabilities. This case demonstrates that the Justice Department is equally committed to foiling those efforts through the arrest and prosecution of those who conduct economic espionage at the expense of our economic and national security,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security, Kenneth L. Wainstein.


United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien stated: “Mr. Chung was accused of stealing restricted technology that had been developed over many years by engineers who were sworn to protect their work product because it represented trade secrets. Disclosure of this information to outside entities like the PRC would compromise our national security.” The case against Chung was related to an investigation into another engineer who worked in the United States and obtained sensitive military information for the PRC. The man, Chi Mak, and several of his family members were convicted 2007, of providing defense articles to the PRC.

Chi Mak, An engineer who conspired with family members to export United States sensitive military technology to the People’s Republic of China was sentenced March 24, 2008, to 293 months in federal prison. Chi Mak, 65, of Downey, a former engineer for defense contractor Power Paragon, orchestrated the conspiracy to obtain naval technology and to illegally export the material to the PRC. He was sentenced by United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney, who also imposed a $50,000 fine.  

“We will never know the full extent of the damage that Mr. Mak has done to our national security,” Judge Carney wrote in a “Statement of Reasons”. “A high-end...sentence will provide a strong deterrent to the PRC not to send its agents here to steal American military secrets.”  Chi Mak was found guilty by a federal jury in May 2007 of conspiracy, two counts of attempting to violate export control laws, failing to register as an agent of a foreign government and making false statements to federal investigators. He has been in jail since his arrest.  

Chi Mak and his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, copied the information intended for the PRC onto CD-ROM disks, which were then given to Chi Mak’s brother, Tai Mak. Yui “Billy” Mak, who is Tai Mak’s son, encrypted the defense data onto a CD-ROM disk in preparation for surreptitious delivery to the PRC. This CD-ROM was found hidden in luggage on October 28, 2005 when Tai Mak and his wife, Fuk Heung Li, attempted to board a flight to the PRC at Los Angeles International Airport. Tai Mak and Fuk Li were arrested at the airport, while Chi Mak and Chiu Mak were arrested at their home. Billy Mak was charged and arrested seven months later.  

Individuals in the Chinese aviation industry began sending Chung “tasking” letters as early as 1979. Over the years, the letters directed Chung to collect specific technological information, including data related to the Space Shuttle and various military and civilian aircraft. Chung responded in one letter indicating a desire to contribute to the “motherland.” 

In various letters to his handlers in the PRC, Chung referenced engineering manuals he had collected and sent to the PRC, including 24 manuals relating to the B-1 Bomber that Rockwell had prohibited from disclosure outside of the company. According to the indictment, between 1985 and 2003, Chung made multiple trips to the PRC to deliver lectures on technology involving the Space Shuttle and other programs, and during those trips he met with officials and agents of the PRC government. Chung and PRC officials exchanged letters that discussed cover stories for Chung’s travel to China and recommended methods for passing information, including suggestions that Chung use Chi Mak to transmit information. 

The indictment described a May 2, 1987 letter from Gu Weihao, an official in the Ministry of Aviation and China Aviation Industry Corporation, which discussed the possibility of inviting Chung’s wife, who is an artist, to visit an art institute so that Chung could use the cover of traveling with his wife as an excuse to travel to the PRC.  

This same letter suggested that passing information to the PRC through Chi Mak would be “faster and safer” and concluded with the statement: “It is your honor and China’s fortune that you are able to realize your wish of dedicating yourself to the service of your country.” The indictment described a second letter from Gu Weihao, dated April 12, 1988, which asked Chung to provide information on “advanced technologies.” This letter stated that Rebecca Mak was in the PRC and she had reported that Chung and the Maks had a good relationship.

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