The Justice Department said Yi-Chi Shih illegally exported military-grade semiconductor technology to China.
A 64-year-old electrical engineer who was recently found guilty in a federal court in California of attempting to export military-grade circuits to China could be sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.
The Justice Department said Yi-Chi Shih, a part-time resident of Los Angeles, was found guilty on June 26 of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).
The federal grand jury also found Shih guilty on 18 counts involving mail fraud, wire fraud, subscribing to a false tax return, making false statements to a government agency and conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information.
The statutory maximum sentence on all charges is 219 years in federal prison.
According to the evidence presented at trial, Shih and co-defendant Kiet Ahn Mai, 65, of Pasadena, Calif., conspired to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer of a U.S. company that manufactured wide-band, high-power semiconductor chips, known as monolithic microwave integrated circuits (MMICs), the Justice Department said.
MMICs are used to build missiles, missile guidance systems, fighter jets, electronic warfare, electronic warfare countermeasures and radar applications.
The semiconductor chips acquired by Shih and Mai were exported to China’s Chengdu GaStone Technology Co. (CGTC). Shih was president of this company, which in 2014 was placed on the Commerce Department’s Entity List.
Shih used a Southern California-based company Pullman Lane Productions, which he controlled, to “funnel funds provided by Chinese entities to finance the manufacturing of MMICs by the victim company,” the Justice Department said.
Both Shih and Mai were indicted in this case in January 2018. Mai pleaded guilty in December to one felony count of smuggling and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 19, at which time he will face a statutory maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.