A former Chinese airline employee operating out of JFK Airport orchestrated a scheme using passenger flights to deliver packages to military officers in China.
Ying Lin, a former manager for an international airline operating out of New York-area airports, pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn Wednesday to illegally handling packages on behalf of Chinese military officers that were transported on China-bound flights.
According to the U.S. Justice Department, Lin worked for the airline, which the court did not name but noted was Chinese-owned, from 2002 to the fall of 2015 as a counter agent at JFK International Airport and from the fall of 2015 through April 2016 as the station manager at Newark Liberty International Airport.
During her employment with the airline, Lin accepted packages from Chinese military officers and placed those packages aboard the airline’s flights to China as “unaccompanied luggage or checked in the packages under the names of other passengers flying on those flights,” the Justice Department said.
Lin violated Transportation Security Administration regulations by processing these packages that did not belong to ticketed passengers. She worked with other airline employees to ensure they were received by the Chinese military officers in China.
Lin was compensated for her work through gifts from China’s consulate in New York, which included tax-exempt purchases of liquor, cigarettes and electronic devices worth tens of thousands of dollars, as well as free house renovations at her two residences in Queens, N.Y.
The Justice Department said when sentenced, Lin faces up to 10 years’ imprisonment. As part of the guilty plea, she agreed to forfeit about $25,000, as well as another $145,000 to resolve the government’s forfeiture verdict.
“This case is a stark example of the Chinese government using the employees of Chinese companies doing business here to engage in illegal activity,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, in a statement. “Covertly doing the Chinese military’s bidding on U.S. soil is a crime, and Lin and the Chinese military took advantage of a commercial enterprise to evade legitimate U.S. government oversight.”