Navy officer sentenced to 4 years in prison for selling arms to Chinese

A naval officer will serve four years in prison after being found guilty of selling arms to a Chinese national convicted of conspiracy to smuggle military engines and small boats into China.

Lieutenant Fan Yang, 37, was sentenced last November and sentenced Wednesday. Trained as an anti-submarine warfare officer, Yang had flown on the P-8 Poseidon aircraft.

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Fan Yang and his wife, Yang Yang, hid their relationship with Chinese businessman Ge Songtao and his assistant Zheng Yan, whose company Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. purchased maritime equipment designed for military and law enforcement purposes from the United States. Yang also purchased two guns for Songtao, concealing these actions when applying for a security clearance.

“This case is not limited to federal gun law. He is a former naval flight officer with a top-secret security clearance and trained in anti-submarine warfare, who lied about his ties to the People’s Republic of China on government employment forms American”, mentioned Deputy Director Alan E. Kohler Jr. of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division.

Born in China and emigrated to the United States in 1999, Fan Yang first served in the Navy from 2005 to 2007, becoming a naturalized citizen in 2006. After earning a degree in electrical engineering, Yang returned to the Navy as a as flight officer in 2012. .

Prior to commissioning, however, Fan Yang struck up a relationship with Ge Sontao, with the two eventually meeting in person in 2013, while Yang was undergoing flight training in Pensacola, Florida. Three years later, while Fan Yang was stationed in Jacksonville, Florida, he recommended Songtao hire his wife, Yang Yang, at Shanghai Breese Technology Co. Ltd. Yang Yang received over $300,000 over the next three years. Ge Sontao pleaded guilty in 2020 to using the business to try to export”special forces maritime raiding machines and engines” in China.

In 2017 and 2018, Fan Yang also purchased two handguns, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol and a Glock 9mm pistol, for Songtao at his request, lying on Firearms Transaction Record about the nature of the purchases. If anyone doubted who the pistols were intended for, however, they would have been detailed with the engravings Sontao’s initials – “GST” – and the phrase “Never Out of the Fight”. In effect.

FBI investigators also said Songtao sought weapons training from “tactical instructors with previous military experience” in the old days.

The scheme began to unravel in 2019, when Fan Yang submitted paperwork for his security clearance while serving as a Marine Patrol and Weapons Reconnaissance School in Jacksonville, Florida. In doing so, Yang had essentially neglected to disclose all of the above. Yang Yang, Ge Sontao and Zheng Yan all pleaded guilty at various charges in 2020.

While a few Zodiac boats and a few engraved guns might not seem like a lot, at least we know someone checks all those endless pages of paperwork needed to acquire a security clearance.

Correction: The original title of this article described Lt. Fan Yang as a “navy pilot.” It’s wrong. Yang served as a naval flight officer. The title has been corrected.

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