SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – A former Defense Intelligence Agency officer who sold U.S. military intelligence to Chinese officials will spend 10 years in prison, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
Ron Rockwell Hansen, a retired warrant officer with the U.S. Army and former intelligence case officer with the Defense Intelligence Agency, pocketed more than $800,000 over four years by selling insider information and technology to China before tipping his hand by trying to recruit a second DIA officer.
Hansen, 59, of Syracuse, Utah, was reported to the FBI and arrested in 2018. Records show he had made 40 trips to China since 2013.
When Hansen returned from several of those trips, the FBI obtained court orders to search his luggage. Hansen, who is fluent in Mandarin and Russian, regularly brought tens of thousands of dollars in cash back from China, along with thumb drives hidden in places like balled up socks stuffed in his shoes.
Hansen originally faced 15 counts of espionage, smuggling and financial charges, though he pleaded guilty to only one count of attempting to leak national defense information to a foreign government this past March.
A plea agreement called for an agreed-upon sentence of 15 years.
U.S. District Judge Dee Benson, citing character letters and Hansen’s cooperation with U.S. intelligence officials, reduced that term to 10 years before a full court gallery Tuesday.
Addressing the court, shackled and in a tan jumpsuit, Hansen apologized amid tearful relatives and supporters.
“Your honor, there simply are no words to accurately and fully express the depth of regret I have for my decisions and actions. I am so sorry. I apologize to my wife, to my children, to my family members for the pain and damage I have caused them,” Hansen said. “I apologize to my colleagues in the U.S. intelligence community. I apologize to my brothers and sisters in arms in the U.S. military. They all deserve better from me. I would give anything to go back and change this. Anything.”
Benson acknowledged the apology and cautioned Hansen about the road ahead.
“I believe you, Mr. Hansen, when you say that you would give anything to take all of this back and not be in this terrible situation you’re in and that you have put your family in,” Benson said.
“You can get through a 10-year sentence,” he added. “The hard part is going to try to get through all of the fallout from it with your family and with yourself. I hope that you can be successful in that effort.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Lund said the prosecution hoped the case “serves to highlight the extent that the Chinese government will go to target American intelligence and technology as a way of advancing their position in the world.
“It is also our hope that this case would deter any other person that holds a position of public trust from disclosing information that would potentially jeopardize the national security of the United States,” Lund continued.
Benson recommended that Hansen serve the sentence in Florence, Colorado. Hansen will then be on supervised release for five years.
Benson also dismissed counts two through 15 of the indictment and signed a motion of forfeiture.
“Good luck to you, Mr. Hansen, and to your family,” the judge said in closing.
Hansen’s wife and children declined comment while leaving the court.
His older brother Don told reporters that the family was thankful he cooperated with prosecutors.
“We’re very pleased his cooperation, leaning on his years of service to the great United States of America,” Don Hansen said. “He showed them how it was done to help prevent it in the future. He very much regrets his decisions and choices.”