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Company pleads guilty in military secrets case

Company pleads guilty in military secrets case

A Tennessee company has pleaded guilty to illegally providing military secrets to a Chinese citizen, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.
Atmospheric Glow Technologies Inc. and retired University of Tennessee professor J. Reece Roth were indicted in May on 18 counts related to violating the Arms Export Control Act and trying to defraud the U.S. Air Force.
Roth pleaded not guilty and his trial begins on Monday, but the company pleaded guilty on Wednesday to 10 counts of unlawfully exporting defense-related materials in 2005 and 2006.
The company was started to market commercial applications for the university's Plasma Sciences Lab's research, which Roth headed.
The charges involve work Roth, a Chinese graduate student and the company performed for an Air Force contract to develop flight controls for unmanned aircraft, or "drones."
Prosecutors said Roth and Atmospheric Glow Technologies failed to get government permission before involving Chinese foreign national Xin Dai in the work.
The government also claims Roth carried sensitive documents on a lecture trip to China in 2006 and directed wire transmissions of restricted technical data to China.
Dai was in the U.S. on a visa to work on his doctorate in electrical engineering at the university.
The company, which has filed for bankruptcy, could face criminal fines up to $1 million, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. No one at the company is subject to prison time as a result of the plea deal, said Sharry Dedman-Beard, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office. Sentencing is set for Dec. 8.
One of Roth's colleagues, physicist Daniel Max Sherman, 37, of Littleton, Colorado, pleaded guilty in April to related charges and is awaiting sentencing, though he claimed he was unaware a law had been broken.
If convicted on all counts, Roth could face more than 160 years in prison and more than $1.5 million in fines.


Updated : 2021-05-06 05:00 GMT+08:00