Fan Yang, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was found guilty by a federal jury for conspiring with his co-defendants Ge Songtao and Yang Yang (his wife) for violating U.S. firearm laws, making false written statements to federally licensed firearms dealers during the purchase of two firearms, and making false written statements during his security clearance background investigation.
Background on Fan Yang
Yang served the U.S. Navy as a Naval Flight Officer who was trained in anti-submarine warfare. However, before he became commissioned, he began his connection to Ge Songtao, who is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China. At Yang’s trial, photographs proved in person contact dating back to 2013 while Yang was conducting Navy flight training in Pensacola, FL. Fast forward to 2016, and Yang asked Ge Songtao to hire Yang’s wife (Yang Yang) to be an employee at Shanghai Breeze Technology Co, Ltd. Ge Songtao headquartered his company in Shanghai, China, but the company purchased U.S. law enforcement and military missions equipment to be exported back to China.
Example of a Close and Continuing Relationship with Chinese citizen
Over the next few years, money would flow through Ge Songtao’s company to Yang Yang for her salary and for various expenses and goods that the Yangs purchased. The Yangs set up a family business called BQ Tree LLC, which helped move the funds. Fan Yang purchased handguns for Ge Songtao twice – even engraving “G.S.T.” and the phrase “Never Out of the Fight” on a Sig Sauer 9mm pistol; however, both purchases were marked on the Firearms Transactions Record (ATF Form-4473) as for Yang’s own personal use – not a gift or purchase for someone else who was a citizen of China.
Despite all the evidence that pointed to a close and continuing relationship with a foreign national – like in-home visits or travel to see Ge Songtao, Fan Yang hid this information from the Navy. He did not self-report, and in 2019, Yang was required to complete and sign his SF-86 (e-QIP) as part of the renewal process for his Top Secret security clearance. Yang did not disclose his foreign national relationships, his bank account in China, his expired Chinese passport, or his side hustle at BQ Tree LLC.
Sentencing for the Defendants
On October 31, 2019, Yang was initially indicted, but then on November 19, 2020, he was charged with a superseding indictment. Yang is facing a maximum penalty of 30 years, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for March 16, 2022. Fan Yang’s co-defendants each pleaded guilty to conspiring to submit false export information through the federal government’s Automated Export System and to export special forces maritime raiding craft and engines to China fraudulently, and attempting to export that equipment fraudulently, in violation of U.S. law. On July 14, 2021, Ge Songtao was sentenced to three years and six months in a federal prison. On December 9, 2020, Yang Yang was sentenced to a time-served sentence or the equivalent of approximately 14 months’ imprisonment.