Chinese-born U.S. citizen pleads guilty to illegal tech export
A naturalized U.S. citizen born in China pleaded guilty Thursday to federal charges related to a scheme to export U.S.-built high-tech military-grade cameras to Beijing.
Chao Tah Wei, who was arrested earlier this year at Los Angeles International Airport, pleaded guilty to three felony charges involving 10 thermal-imaging cameras concealed in his luggage at LAX and an earlier shipment of three identical cameras to Beijing in October 2007.
Export of the cameras, which have military applications, are federally controlled for national security reasons.
Chao, 52, admitted to illegally shipping the three cameras in 2007 and failing to receive a federal license to export the 10 cameras this year.
Chao is scheduled to appear for sentencing on Oct. 6 and faces a maximum sentence of up to 60 years in federal prison.
U.S. Justice Department said cases such as Chao's are part of a concerted effort by the Chinese government to steal sensitive U.S. military and military-grade technology and information.