A detention hearing is scheduled in federal court Thursday for a Pomona woman accused of conspiring to procure sensitive space communications technology and illegally export it to her native China.
Si “Cathy” Chen, 32, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges contained in a 14-count indictment, including violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which controls and restricts the export of certain goods and technology from the United States to foreign nations. She is also charged with conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements on an immigration application, and using a forged passport.
At a detention hearing Thursday afternoon in downtown Los Angeles, Chen’s attorney will attempt to persuade U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick J. Walsh that the defendant is a good candidate for pretrial release under certain conditions. A federal prosecutor is expected to argue that Chen should remain in lockup pending trial, which has been assigned to a judge in Santa Ana.
The indictment states that from March 2013 to December 2015, Chen purchased and smuggled sensitive items to China without obtaining licenses from the U.S. Department of Commerce as required by the Economic Powers Act.
Those items included components commonly used in military communications “jammers” from which Chen removed the export-control warning stickers prior to shipping, court papers allege.
Additionally, Chen is suspected of smuggling communications devices worth more than $100,000 that are commonly used in space communications applications, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The indictment further describes how Chen allegedly received payments for the illegally exported products through an account held at a bank in China by a family member.
In addition to the export violations, Chen is charged with employing several aliases and using a forged passport in an effort to conceal her alleged smuggling activities on behalf of unnamed co-conspirators in China.
The indictment alleges the defendant used a Chinese passport bearing her photo and a false name — “Chunping Ji” — to rent an office in Pomona, where she took delivery of the export-controlled items. After receiving the goods, Chen shipped the devices to Hong Kong in parcels that bore her false name, along with false product descriptions and monetary values, all done in an effort to avoid attracting law enforcement scrutiny, prosecutors allege. Chen would face up to 150 years in prison if convicted of all 14 charges, prosecutors said.
—City News Service
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