A Pomona woman accused of plotting to smuggle space and military technology to her native China is expected to plead not guilty Friday to federal charges.
Si Chen, also known as Cathy Chen, allegedly bought and exported components commonly used in military communications jammers and for space communications, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Chen, 32, is expected to enter a not-guilty plea in Los Angeles to charges contained in an updated indictment accusing her of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, conspiracy, money laundering, making false statements on an immigration application, and using a forged passport.
Chen came to the U.S. in 2007 after graduating college to pursue a master’s degree in accounting and interned for a year at a company that provided engineering services to aerospace companies, including defense contractors, according to the government.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Judith Heinz alleged at a hearing that Chen conspired with associates overseas to illegally ship “military parts” to China, used a false Chinese passport, and lied to U.S. immigration officials in visa applications.
The prosecutor said that Chen has family ties to the Chinese government, while her husband was educated at a Chinese military academy and has close connections to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the country’s armed forces.
The indictment alleges 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. Jammers can be used to cut off an adversary’s cellular communications and to mislead enemy forces.
If convicted as charged, the Chinese national would face the possibility of more than six years behind bars followed by deportation.
—City News Service