A Chinese-American engineer and two others who allegedly conspired to steal sensitive information about U.S. Navy warships and smuggle it to China were indicted Tuesday on federal charges, authorities said.
The indictment, returned by a grand jury in Los Angeles, charges Chi Mak, 65, his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, 62, and brother, Tai Wang Mak, 56, of acting as agents of a foreign government without prior notification to the U.S. Attorney General, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Federal officials said Chi Mak took computer disks from Anaheim defense contractor Power Paragon, where he was lead engineer on a sensitive research project involving propulsion systems for Navy warships.
The couple then copied the information to CDs and delivered them to Tai Wang Mak, who was scheduled to fly to Hong Kong on Oct. 28 with his wife, Fuk Heung Li, an FBI affidavit said.
From there, Tai Wang Mak allegedly planned to travel to Guangzhou, China, to meet a contact.
All four were arrested on Oct. 28. Li was accused in an FBI affidavit of aiding the others, but she was not indicted Tuesday.
Chi Mak and Chiu are naturalized U.S. citizens originally from China, Tai Wang Mak is a Chinese national and director for the Phoenix North American Chinese Channel, and Fuk Heung Li also is a Chinese national.
Though it’s not alleged in the indictment, prosecutors previously said authorities recovered restricted documents on the DDX Destroyer — known as the “destroyer of the future” — that were generated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center and marked “for official use only.”
Also seized were documents on how to reconfigure a damaged ship after it’s attacked, as well as two lists in Chinese that asked Chi Mak to get documents containing information on submarine torpedo technology, electromagnetic artillery systems, weapon standardization, early warning technology to detect incoming missiles and defenses against nuclear attack, prosecutors alleged.
The Navy’s Aegis weapons system, used on cruisers and destroyers, employs high-power radar to spot, identify, track and prioritize distant aerial targets. Aegis allows the ships to engage in anti-air, anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare.