A former Department of Transportation employee who attempted to illegally export military satellite technology has been indicted on federal charges, according to court documents unsealed today.
Civil engineer Philip Chaohui He, who was also known as Philip Hope, was arrested in Long Beach on Dec. 11 and fired from his Caltrans job 10 days later for failing to show up to work.
Department spokeswoman Tamie McGowen said that He, an Oakland resident, reviewed technical drawings and that his work was closely supervised, including work he did on the Bay Bridge.
"He had no access to sensitive information that's not available to the public," McGowen said, asserting that there are no safety or security concerns about He's work.
Investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security told Caltrans last July that they were watching He. At the fed's request, Caltrans cooperated with the investigation.
"We're proud of the fact that we were closely working with them," McGowen said.
The Colorado federal grand jury indictment alleges that He drove to the port of Long Beach on Dec. 11 with 200 radiation-hardened integrated circuits worth nearly $550,000 in the trunk of his car. The circuits, which are considered sensitive defense articles banned from export without federal authorization, were concealed in plastic infant formula containers inside five sealed boxes marked "milk powder" in Chinese.
At the port, the indictment alleges, He met two men "in front of a docked ship bearing a (Chinese) flag. The (Chinese) flagged ship was registered to Zhenhua Port Machinery Company LTD, a subsidiary of the ... state-owned corporation China Communications Construction." One of the men had a Chinese passport and the ship was scheduled to return to China in a few days.
He allegedly obtained the circuits illegally from Colorado-based Aeroflex Colorado Springs. After his arrest, he was extradited to Colorado and now faces up to 35 years and $1.5 million in fines on charges of conspiracy, attempted unlawful export and attempted smuggling of defense articles.
He appeared in U.S. District Court in Denver on Friday where he was advised of his rights and the charges against him
Click here to read the Colorado federal grand jury indictment.