By Jim Kouri
A jury on Thursday convicted an employee of a defense contractor for exporting sensitive U.S. military technology to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), stealing military secrets, and making false statements to federal law enforcement, according to a report obtained by the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Sixing Liu, a/k/a “Steve Liu,” a Chinese citizen who lived in Flanders, New Jersey, and in Deerfield, Illinois, was immediately taken into federal custody after the jury announced their verdict. U.S. District Judge Stanley R. Chesler based his decision for Liu to remain in custody after agreeing with the prosecutor that Liu was a flight risk. Sentencing before Judge Chesler is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2013.
The jury convicted 49-year-old Liu of nine of the 11 counts with which he was charged, including six counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, one count of possessing stolen trade secrets in violation of the Economic Espionage Act of 1996, one count of transporting stolen property in interstate commerce, and one count of lying to federal agents. The jury acquitted Liu on two counts of lying to federal agents.
According to FBI documents filed in the case and evidence presented at trial:
In 2010, Liu stole thousands of electronic files from his employer, L-3 Communications, Space and Navigation Division, located in Budd Lake, New Jersey. The stolen files detailed the performance and design of guidance systems for missiles, rockets, target locators, and unmanned aerial vehicles or drones.
Liu stole the files to position himself for future employment in the PRC. As part of that plan, Liu delivered presentations about the technology at several PRC universities, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and conferences organized by PRC government entities.
According to trial testimony, Liu boarded a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport to the PRC on Nov. 12, 2010. Upon his return to the United States on Nov. 29, 2010, federal agents discovered Liu was in possession of a non-work-issued computer found to contain the stolen material.
The following day, Liu lied to agents of the Department of Homeland Security about the extent of his work on U.S. defense technology, which the jury found to be a criminal false statement.
The jury heard testimony that L-3 Communications, Space and Navigation Division, provided Liu training regarding U.S. government enforced export control laws and he was cautioned that most of the company’s products were covered by those laws.
After the verdict, Judge Chesler ordered Liu taken into custody, citing the penalties Liu faces, his ties to the PRC, and the lack of an extradition treaty with the PRC, among other reasons. He faces upwards of 45-years in federal prison and close to $2 million in fines.