SANTA ANA, California — Five Southern California family members previously charged with acting as agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) today face new charges of conspiring with each other to export United States defense articles to the PRC.
A federal grand jury late this afternoon named the five in a superseding indictment that adds counts of conspiracy to export United States defense articles to China, attempted and actual export of United States defense articles to China, possession of property in aid of a foreign government and making false statements to federal government investigators.
The new charges were announced this afternoon by United States Attorney Debra Wong Yang; J. Stephen Tidwell, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI in Los Angeles; and John Cooper, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Field Office for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
The 15-count indictment charges:
Chi Mak, 66, of Downey;
Chi Mak’s wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, 63, also of Downey;
Chi Mak’s brother, Tai Mak, 57, of Alhambra;
Tai Mak’s wife, Fuk Heung Li, 49, also of Alhambra; and
the son of Tai Mak and Fuk Li, Billy Yui Mak, 26, of Alhambra.
Chi Mak, his wife and his brother were first indicted in November 2005 on charges of failing to register as foreign agents (see: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/cac/pr2005/154.html). In June, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment that added Fuk Li and her son as defendants (see: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/cac/pr2006/070.html). Today’s indictment adds new charges against all five defendants. The new charges include three counts against Chi Mak for actual and attempted unlawful export of defense articles; one count against Tai Mak for possession of property in aid of a foreign government; one count each against Chi Mak, Tai Mak and Rebecca Chiu for making false statements to federal authorities; and one count against all five defendants for conspiracy to export defense articles.
Court documents filed in this case allege that unidentified co-conspirators from the PRC provided Chi Mak with “tasking lists” that requested specific defense information, including sensitive areas of U.S. Naval research concerning nuclear-powered submarines. The lists allegedly contained instructions for Chi Mak to participate in seminars and then compile the information he obtained at the seminars onto computer disks.
Chi Mak, an engineer with Navy contractor Power Paragon, allegedly collected technical information about the Navy’s current and future warship technologies. This included information that was sensitive and subject to restriction regarding its distribution, storage and handling. According to court documents, Chi Mak and his wife allegedly copied the information intended for the PRC onto CD-ROM disks, which were then given to Tai Mak. Billy Mak then allegedly encrypted the defense data onto a CD-ROM disk in preparation for surreptitious delivery to the PRC. This CD-ROM was found hidden in luggage on October 28, 2005 when Fuk Li and Tai Mak attempted to board a flight to the PRC at Los Angeles International Airport. Tai Mak and Fuk Li were arrested at the airport, while Chi Mak and Rebecca Chiu were arrested at their home.
Each count in the indictment carries a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison, with the exception of the counts alleging false statements, which carry a maximum possible penalty of five years in prison.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Chi Mak is in custody pending trial, which is scheduled for March 20, 2007. The other four defendants are scheduled to go on trial on May 15, 2007.
This investigation was conducted jointly by the FBI and the NCIS.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Gregory W. Staples
Assistant United States Attorney Craig H. Missakian
Release No. 06-146