New Orleans Businessman Pleads Guilty to Espionage Charge Involving China
WASHINGTON - Tai Shen Kuo, age 58, of New Orleans, La., pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of Virginia to a one-count criminal information charging him with conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government, namely, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in violation of 18 U.S.C., Section 794(a), (c). Kuo was arrested on Feb. 11, 2008 on a criminal complaint charging this same offense.
Patrick Rowan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security; U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg of the Eastern District of Virginia; and Arthur M. Cummings, II, Executive Assistant Director of the FBI’s National Security Branch, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Kuo faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 8, 2008.
“Today’s guilty plea is the latest demonstration of the serious threat posed by international espionage networks,” said Patrick Rowan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security. “The successful prosecution of Tai Shen Kuo and his co-conspirator William Bergersen should serve as a warning to others seeking to steal America’s military secrets for the benefit of foreign powers.”
“Espionage is a real and serious threat to our national security. Those who attempt to obtain classified information, such as Mr. Kuo, for illicit purposes will be caught, prosecuted, and severely punished,” said U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.
“By providing classified information to a foreign government, Tai Shen Kuo compromised our national security for his own profit,” said FBI Executive Assistant Director Arthur M. Cummings, National Security Branch. “The FBI is committed to working with our partners in the law enforcement and intelligence communities to safeguard America’s sensitive secrets from those who would do us harm.”
According to a Statement of Facts filed in Court with Kuo’s Plea Agreement, the criminal conduct spanned the time period of March 2007 to February 2008. During this time, Kuo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, obtained national defense information from Gregg W. Bergersen – a Weapons Systems Policy Analyst at the Arlington, Va.-based Defense Security Cooperation Agency, an agency within the Department of Defense – on several occasions. The information pertained primarily to U.S. military sales to Taiwan and U.S. military communications security and was classified at the Secret level.
During the course of the conspiracy, Kuo cultivated a friendship with Bergersen, bestowing on him gifts, cash payments, dinners, and trips to such places as Las Vegas. Kuo also led Bergersen to believe that he would make Bergersen a part owner or an employee of a company selling U.S. defense technology to Taiwan after Bergersen’s retirement from government service.
Unbeknownst to Bergersen, Kuo passed along to an official of the government of the PRC the documents and information Bergersen had provided him. The PRC official directed Kuo to collect specific documents and information and paid him approximately $50,000.00 for completing those tasks.
On March 31, 2008, Bergersen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 793(d), (g). Bergersen is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11, 2008, and faces a maximum possible sentence of 10 years in prison.
Espionage charges are still pending against an alleged conspirator, Yu Xin Kang, of New Orleans, La., who remains held without bond.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) provided substantial assistance and cooperation throughout the course of the investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neil Hammerstrom and Aaron Zebley from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Trial Attorney Ryan Fayhee from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
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