nationalsecuritylaw United States v. Justice (C.D. Cal. May 22, 2017) (guilty plea in espionage/AECA sting)

From DOJ’s press release:

WASHINGTON – Today, Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, California, pleaded guilty to federal charges of one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act. The charges are related to Justice’s selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service. Justice was an engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor. Specifically, he worked on military and commercial satellite programs.

The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra R. Brown for the Central District of California.

According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.

In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the U.S. Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the U.S. under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.

Justice faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Justice pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge George Wu, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18. Justice has been in custody since his arrest in July 2016.

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

Attorneys from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

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