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U.S. Navy officer who purchased guns for Chinese national sent to prison

·1 min read

(Reuters) - A U.S. Navy flight officer convicted last year of lying about his purchase of two pistols for a Chinese national was sentenced on Wednesday to four years in prison.

Fin Yang, a 37-year-old lieutenant in the U.S. Navy trained in anti-submarine warfare, was found guilty by a federal court jury in Florida of buying the guns for the head of a Chinese defense contracting firm who employed his wife.

"(Lieutenant) Fan Yang swore an oath to protect this country, but instead he posed a significant risk to U.S. national security when he failed to report his contact with the head of a Chinese defense contracting firm," Sherri Onks, FBI special agent in charge of the agency's Jacksonville field office, said in a written statement.

"This act was even more egregious considering Lt. Yang's Top Secret security clearance and active-duty status as an officer in the U.S. Navy," Onks said.

Prosecutors say the Chinese national, Songtao Ge, hired Yang's wife for his company, Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd, in 2016 and ultimately paid her more than $300,000.

In 2017 and 2018 Yang bought two firearms for Ge, a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol and a Glock 9mm pistol, falsely representing that the guns were for himself, according to prosecutors.

Yang also lied about his relationship with Ge on a background questionnaire he was required to sign as part of his security clearance for the Navy, prosecutors say.

He was convicted in November of conspiring to violate U.S. firearms laws and making false statements as part of his security clearance.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Richard Pullin)

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