Jacksonville-based Navy officer, wife indicted in Chinese smuggling scheme
By STEVE PATTERSON | The Florida Times-Union | Published: November 2, 2019
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Tribune Content Agency) — A Jacksonville-based Navy lieutenant, his wife and two employees of a Chinese technology company have been indicted on charges involving conspiring to smuggle military-style inflatable boats and motors to China.
Lt. Fan Yang, 34, and his wife, 33-year-old Yang Yang, were also charged with conspiring to help Chinese co-defendant Ge Songtao get and use a handgun during trips to the United States, although that's illegal for non-immigrant aliens.
Songtao, 49, is identified in court filings as chairman of the Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. in mainland China. The fourth person indicted, 27-year-old Zheng Yan, is an employee of the same company. Both are Chinese citizens.
Court records said the indictment was filed Thursday but wasn't publicly posted until Friday.
Fan Yang, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, has been assigned to the Maritime Patrol Reconnaissance Weapons School at Naval Air Station Jacksonville with a top-secret security clearance. He trained as a naval flight officer responsible for weapons and tactics aboard the P-8 antisubmarine aircraft.
A court filing said Yang Yang, also a naturalized U.S. citizen, had worked with Shanghai Breeze since 2016. Over time, an investigator's affidavit said, the Chinese company had wired about $205,000 to a business that Yang Yang incorporated called BQ Tree LLC.
What the Chinese company wanted, court filings said, was to have American companies that sold equipment to the Navy export items that couldn't legally be sent to mainland China.
The indictment said Yang Yang helped Shanghai Breeze by acting as a point of contact with an unnamed marine manufacturer in California, with Fan Yang advising her.
Yang Yang, Ge and Zheng were accused of filing fake information to try to export seven vessels and eight engines that would have ended up at Shanghai Breeze offices in China.
Fan Yang was also charged with making false statements when he renewed his security clearance in January and making false statements to a gun dealer to get a gun that was intended for Ge.