SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A former Boeing engineer who worked for 30 years as a spy for China and the People’s Liberation Army was taken into custody Thursday after being convicted on espionage charges for stealing secrets about B-1 bombers, Delta IV rockets and F-15 fighters.
Federal agents found a “veritable treasure trove of Boeing’s documents” when they raided the home of 73-year-old Dongfan Chung. Allowing them to obtain a warrant for the raid, agents had found secret documents hidden between newspaper pages in Chung’s trash in Orange County.
“Federal agents were astonished at what they found,” said the opinion convicting Chung.
Agents had begun watching Chung during an investigation of another engineer, Chi Mak, after a letter was discovered in Mak’s home addressed to Chung. The letter was from Gu Weihao, of the Chinese Ministry of Aviation, asking for information on civilian and military aircraft.
Agents found more than 300,000 pages of secret information stashed in the crawl space under Chung’s home. The documents included design drawings and diagrams, structural and material specifications, project management data, and engineering reports related to military aircrafts.
Chung held a “secret” security clearance when he worked on the Space Shuttle Program that gave him access to a wide variet of secret documents.
The evidence against him showed that he had been receiving “tasking” letters since as early as 1979 directing him to gather information related to the Space Shuttle and other civilian and military aircrafts, and send it via mail, sea freight, and other Chinese agents, including Mak, the ruling said.
Chung, a naturalized U.S. citizen, responded in one letter “I would like to make an effort to contribute to the Four Modernizations of China,” and referred to China as his “Motherland.”
“The trust placed in Mr. Chung to safeguard proprietary and trade secret information obviously meant very little to Mr. Chung,” said Judge Cormac Carney in Federal Court in Santa Ana, who tried Chung without a jury last month. “He cast it aside to serve the People’s Republic of China which he proudly proclaimed as his ‘Motherland’.”
The information held by Chung included information on the fuselage and antenna of the Space Shuttle, and Rockwell design manuals including one called, “Space Shuttle Program: Thermodynamic Design Data Book, Thermal Control System, Book 5”
“Mr Chung’s library contained a variety of information on other wide ranging military topics, too,” said Carney’s ruling.The library included information on the B-52 bomber’s weapons system, and documents tied to the f-15 figher and the CH-46/47 Chinook Helicopter.
The judge’s opinion also detailed Chung’s spyrcraft. Chinese officials recommended ways for Chung to travel to China without raising suspicion, such as traveling with Rebecca Mak, wife of Chung’s fellow engineer, to visit an art institute, using her trip for the sake of art as an excuse for him to visit China for the sake of espionage.
Once in China, he would give presentations to top officials in the Chinese government, said the judge’s ruling.
Chung worked for Rockwell and Boeing from 1973 until he was laid off in 2002. After the crash of the Columbia orbiter in February 2003, Chung came back to Boeing as a contractor.
Chung has yet to be sentenced after Carney convicted him on seven counts of economic espionage.
He was acquitted on one count of obstruction of justice which was tied to an alleged instruction to his son, telling his son to tell the FBI that he could not remember anything about a family trip to China.