SANTA ANA, CALIF. Jurors convicted a Chinese-born engineer Thursday of conspiring to export U.S. defense technology to China, including data on an electronic propulsion system that could make submarines virtually undetectable.
Chi Mak also was found guilty of acting as an unregistered foreign agent, attempting to violate export control laws and making false statements to the FBI. Prosecutors had dropped a charge of actually exporting defense articles.
When the verdict was read, Mak at first showed no emotion but then appeared to hold back tears as defense attorney Marilyn Bednarski teared up and rubbed his back. Defense attorney Ron Kaye's face was flush.
Mak faces up to 35 years in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.
The government accused Mak, a naturalized U.S. citizen, of taking thousands of pages of documents from his defense contractor employer, Power Paragon of Anaheim, and giving them to his brother, who passed them along to Chinese authorities over a number of years.
Mak, 66, was arrested in 2005 in Los Angeles after FBI agents stopped his brother and sister-in-law as they boarded a flight to Hong Kong.
Investigators said they found three encrypted CDs in their luggage that contained documents on a submarine propulsion system, a solid-state power switch for ships and a Power Point presentation on the future of power electronics.
Chi Mak's wife, brother and other relatives also have been indicted and are to go on trial together June 5.
Mak acknowledged during the trial that he copied classified documents from his employer and kept copies in his office. He maintained he didn't realize at the time that making the copies was illegal.
Kaye said the defense team still believes Mak is innocent.
"We believe the facts of the case have been manipulated, and we believe Mr. Mak didn't necessarily get a fair trial," Kaye said.