MANASSAS, Va. — Convicted spy Larry Wu-tai Chin committed suicide Friday, the U.S. Marshals Service said, two weeks after the retired CIA translator was convicted of spying for China.
Chin killed himself by placing a plastic bag over his head, said a Justice Department official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Chin was pronounced dead at 6:35 a.m. PST, said William Dempsey, a spokesman for the Marshals Service.
He was being held in the Prince William County jail pending sentencing March 17. Convicted on all 17 counts of conspiracy, espionage and tax evasion, he faced a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and fines of up to $2.5 million.
Dempsey said marshals are investigating the death in the suburban Washington jail, along with Prince William County authorities.
The Marshals Service contracts with county jails to house convicts while they are awaiting sentencing.
At his conviction Feb. 7, Chin's attorney, Jacob Stein, said his client had spied for China because "he wanted to bring these two nations together."
Chin, 63, had testified that he stole secret U.S. documents in hopes the papers would help break the ice between then-President Nixon and Chinese Premier Chou En-lai.
The charges spanned three decades. He was the first American ever convicted of spying for China.