Fri, Oct 27, 2006 - Page 4 News List

`Spy' family indicted on new charges

PRESSURE Counts of conspiracy and making false statements were among the fresh charges leveled at an ethnic Chinese family in the US

AP , SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

Five members of a family accused of scheming to send sensitive information about US Navy warships to China were indicted on new conspiracy charges, prosecutors said.

The federal grand jury indictment handed down on Wednesday added counts of conspiracy to export US defense articles to China, possession of property in aid of a foreign government and making false statements to federal investigators.

Named in the supplemental indictment were Chi Mak, a US citizen who worked for Anaheim defense contractor Power Paragon; his wife, Rebecca Laiwah Chiu; his brother, Tai Mak; Tai Mak's wife, Fuk Heung Li and their son, Billy Yui Mak.

Li, 49, and her 26-year-old son already faced charges of making false statements and acting as agents of a foreign government, namely China, without prior notification to the US attorney general.

Chi Mak, 66, Tai Wang Mak, 57, and Rebecca Laiwah Chiu, 62, were previously charged with one count of failing to register as a foreign agent.

The government claims that Chi Mak passed information about US naval technology from his employer to his brother and that his nephew, Billy Mak, then helped encrypt the files onto a CD-ROM computer disk. That disk was found hidden in the luggage of Tai Mak and his wife after they were arrested last October at Los Angeles International Airport as they prepared to travel to Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, authorities said.

Attorneys for the Maks said they were not aware of the new indictment until contacted by the press.

Ronald Kaye, an attorney for Chi Mak, said his client worked with sensitive information as part of his daily job, but never misused it or stole intelligence.

"My client is involved in an area of technology that is not classified -- is not even prohibited from distribution," Kaye said. "It's a strong sign that they are desperately trying to find whatever counts can stick. They've overcharged this case consistently."

Stanley Greenberg, an attorney for Rebecca Chiu, also said his client was innocent.

"It really doesn't matter how they keep changing the format of the charges. The evidence will eventually show she's not guilty, because it all grows out of the same facts," Greenberg said.

Attorneys for Tai Mak and Fuk Li and the Mak family attorney didn't immediately return calls.

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