First U.S. Economic Espionage Trial Wraps Up

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) -- A Chinese-born, former engineer for Boeing Co. knowingly possessed critical trade secrets on the U.S. space program and intended to pass them to China, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday in her closing argument at the first economic espionage case to reach a U.S. courtroom.

Former Boeing Co. engineer Dongfan "Greg" Chung, 73, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, economic espionage, lying to federal agents, obstruction of justice and acting as a foreign agent.

Chung used his job as a stress analyst at Boeing and his previous employer, Rockwell International, to steal more than 250,000 pages of sensitive documents, including trade secrets on a phased array antenna for the U.S. space shuttle and on the Delta IV booster rocket, according to government allegations.

"Your honor, I'm just going to cut to the chase. Defendant is guilty of all counts charged in the indictment," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ivy Wang. "Defendant is guilty ... because defendant intended or knew his actions would benefit a foreign government, specifically the People's Republic of China."

Wang said the information on the booster rocket was so sensitive that Boeing employees were ordered to lock away hard copies of documents related to it before leaving work each day.

The company invested $50 million in the technology over a five-year period using 30 engineers, she said.

"If any of Boeing's competitors in this field obtained this technology, Boeing will lose its competitive edge," she said.

Chung's defense team argued in their June 2 opening statement before U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney that prosecutors could not prove that Chung actually delivered any materials to contacts in China.

Defense attorney Tom Bienert also downplayed the significance of the thousands of pages of documents found in his home, calling Chung a "pack rat" who simply brought his work home with him.

Six similar cases have settled before trial since the Economic Espionage Act was passed in 1996.

Chung worked for Rockwell International until it was bought by Boeing in 1996 and remained with the aerospace giant until he was laid off in 2002. He was brought back as a consultant on stress analysis after the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 2003 and was fired when the FBI began its probe in 2006.

The government believes Chung began spying for the Chinese in the late 1970s, just a few years after he became a U.S. citizen and was hired by Rockwell.

Prosecutors say they discovered Chung's activities while investigating the case of another suspected Chinese spy, Chi Mak. Searches of Mak's house turned up an address book and a letter containing Chung's name.

Mak was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy to export U.S. defense technology to China and sentenced to more than 24 years in prison. Mak was not charged under the Economic Espionage Act.

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