Two family members were charged Wednesday in the federal case against a Chinese-American engineer accused of trying to send sensitive information about Navy warships to China.
An indictment returned by a grand jury in Santa Ana charged Billy Mak, 26, and his mother, Fuk Heung Li, 48, with making false statements and acting as agents of a foreign government, namely China, without prior notification to the U.S. attorney general, said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller.
Billy Mak is the nephew of Chi Mak, who is accused of taking computer disks from an Anaheim defense contractor where he was lead engineer on a sensitive research project involving propulsion systems for Navy warships. Li is married to Chi Mak’s brother, Tai Wang Mak, also a defendant.
Wednesday’s superseding indictment also charges Chi Mak, his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, and Tai Wang Mak with making false statements. All three previously also face a count of failing to register as a foreign agents from a previous indictment.
The government claims that Mak, who is a U.S. citizen, allegedly passed the information to his brother, who then encrypted or helped encrypt the files and loaded them onto a computer disk.
Prosecutors have said previously that authorities recovered from the disk restricted documents on the DDX Destroyer, an advanced technology warship. They also allege that they found two lists in Chinese asking Mak to get documents about submarine torpedo technology, electromagnetic artillery systems, weapon standardization, early warning technology used to detect incoming missiles, and defenses used against nuclear attack.
The FBI arrested Mak and his wife in October for investigation of conspiracy to steal U.S. government documents. They have not been charged with that allegation, and no one has been charged with espionage in the case.