La. Furniture Salesman Guilty of Spying for China

Matthew Barakat, AP, May 14, 2008

A New Orleans furniture salesman pleaded guilty Tuesday to spying for the Chinese government and providing Beijing with secret information on military relations between the U.S. and Taiwan.

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[Tai Shen Kuo, a naturalized U.S. citizen with prominent family connections in Taiwan,] pleaded guilty to a single count of espionage in U.S. District Court in Alexandria. In court papers, Kuo admitted that he received $50,000 from the Chinese government for his efforts.

Kuo provided the defense analyst, Gregg W. Bergersen, several thousand dollars in gambling money on trips the pair took to Las Vegas, as well as promises of employment at a company Kuo hoped to establish. Bergersen, of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty to his role in March and faces up to 10 years in prison.

The information Kuo obtained from Bergersen included updates on Taiwan’s new Po Sheng or “Broad Victory” air defense system, which is a key part of Taiwan’s defenses against a possible attack by China. He also received projections of U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan over the next five years.

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A third person charged in the case, Chinese national Yu Xin Kang, who allegedly acted as a go-between for Kuo and Chinese agents, is in jail awaiting trial.

Kuo’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.

In 2006, former Pentagon intelligence analyst Ronald N. Montaperto was sentenced in Alexandria to three months in jail for unlawful retention of classified documents after admitting he had contacts with two Chinese intelligence officers from as early as 1983 and as recently as 2001.

In February, former Boeing Co. engineer Dongfan “Greg” Chung was arrested in Los Angeles and charged with stealing military and aerospace trade secrets regarding the space shuttle and other programs on China’s behalf. He has pleaded not guilty.

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