A naval flight officer was sentenced to four years in prison Wednesday for failing to disclose the nature of his relationship with a Chinese citizen for a security clearance background investigation, among other things.
Lt. Fan Yang, who operated in the back of P-8A Poseidon surveillance aircraft for anti-submarine warfare missions, routinely concealed from the Navy his connection to Songtao Ge, who owned a company that exported military-style inflatable boats and other equipment to China, according to the Justice Department.
Prior to joining the Navy, Yang established online communication with Ge, and the two met in person while Yang was in flight school in 2013, the Justice Department said.
Yang also advised Ge to hire his wife, Yang “Yuki” Yang, at Ge’s company, Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd., in 2016. The company took on Yuki Yang, and she was paid more than $300,000 from the company, Ge’s executive assistance and the company’s creditors, the Justice Department said. Furthermore, the funds were regularly routed through BQ Tree LLC — the Yang’s family company.
Yang also purchased firearms on behalf of Ge on two occasions: once in 2017, and again in 2018. The Justice Department said Yang inaccurately stated the firearms were for himself when filing a Firearms Transactions Record for the firearms.
Yang also misled the Navy about spending time with Ge. When he asked his chain of command for time off in 2018, he said he was going to “Disney” to spend time with family. In reality, he and Yuki Yang were in Nebraska with Ge.
Yang did not reveal the nature of his relationship with Ge in 2019 while he was serving as a tactics instructor at the Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Weapons School in Jacksonville, Florida, for a background questionnaire required to renew his top secret security clearance. The document required Yang to provide information delineating any close or continued contact with foreign nationals.
“The evidence at trial showed that although Ge employed Yang [Yuki] Yang, had been to the Yangs’ home, and had paid for the Yangs to travel and visit him,” the Justice Department said in a news release Wednesday. “Fan Yang consistently hid their relationship from the Navy.”
“Yang failed to disclose the extent of his contacts with Ge, and hid that he had maintained a bank account in China, sometimes worked for his family business, BQ Tree LLC, and possessed an expired Chinese passport,” the Justice Department said.
Yang was also sentenced for conspiring to violate U.S. firearms laws, and making false written statements to federally licensed firearms dealers when purchasing the weapons, the Justice Department said.
A federal jury convicted Yang in November 2021.
“Lt. Fan Yang swore an oath to protect this country, but instead he posed a significant risk to U.S. national security when he failed to report his contact with the head of a Chinese Defense Contracting firm,” Special Agent in Charge Sherri Onks from the FBI’s Jacksonville Field Office said in a Justice Department news release. “This act was even more egregious considering Lt. Yang’s Top Secret security clearance and active-duty status as an officer in the U.S. Navy.”
Ge and Yuki Yang both pleaded guilty to the following charges: conspiring to submit false export information through the federal government’s Automated Export System and to export special forces maritime raiding craft and engines to China fraudulently, and attempting to export that equipment fraudulently.
Ge was sentenced to three years and six months in federal prison, and Yuki Yang was sentenced to time served.