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10 years for man in China spy case

April 22, 2008|H.G. Reza | Times Staff Writer

A Chinese citizen who conspired with family members to steal U.S. military technology for the People's Republic of China was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison Monday, the maximum he could have received.

The probation report recommended a prison term of 6 1/2 years for Tai Mak, but U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney said a longer sentence was appropriate because the technical information he attempted to export, although unclassified, was sensitive nonetheless.

Mak, 58, who was an Alhambra resident, pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate export-control laws. Prosecutors said he was carrying a disk encrypted with information about U.S. naval technology when he and his wife attempted to board a flight to China at Los Angeles International Airport in 2005.

Mak's wife and son pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the violation of export-control laws. His wife was sentenced to three years' probation and his son to 11 months in custody, which he had served awaiting trial. Both are Chinese citizens and are in custody awaiting deportation.

Chi Mak, a Chinese American engineer who is Tai Mak's brother and who was portrayed by prosecutors as the central figure in a family of spies, was sentenced to 24 years and five months last month. He worked at the Anaheim-based defense firm Power Paragon Inc., which handles Navy contracts.

Chi Mak's wife, also a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty in 2007 to acting as an unregistered agent of China and agreed to serve 36 months in prison. The couple lived in Downey.

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hgreza@latimes.com

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