Gao Zhan sentenced
On March 5, former AU researcher Gao Zhan was sentenced to seven months imprisonment and eight months of community confinement after she pled guilty to illegal arms exports and tax fraud last fall, according to the U.S. Attorney's office. Gao faced a possible sentence of 10 years.
"Crimes like this can jeopardize our national security and expose our military forces to undue threat," said Paul J. McNatty, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in a press release. "Although this sentence reflects the judge's consideration of the cooperation rendered by the defendant to the FBI during this investigation, it also requires her to forfeit all the ill-gotten gain she obtained from her crime."
Gao pleaded guilty to exporting 80 Military Intel 486 DX2 microprocessors to China between October 2000 and January 2001 in U.S. District Court Nov. 26, 2003. The resulting payment of $539,296 was not reported on Gao's 2001 tax form, allowing for the charge of tax fraud. Gao and her husband, Dongua Xue, who also pled guilty and faces sentencing April 4, forfeited approximately $505,000 and agreed to pay $88,000 in additional taxes in November, according to the release.
Gao was also given a fine of $2,500.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III sentenced her to the split 15-month sentence citing the fact that Gao's "cooperation has been of substantial assistance to the government," The Washington Post reported. The U.S. Attorney's office told The Post that it called for 15 months imprisonment because of her help in an "expanding investigation into others who may have illegally exported arms or other sensitive technology."
Gao worked at AU from fall 2000 until September 2002 as a scholar-in-residence in the School of International Service, The Eagle previously reported.
She was detained by the Chinese government in 2001 under suspicion for espionage and was released July 26, 2001 after 166 days of detainment. The Washington Post suggested that the detainment was a cover-up to throw off any investigation of the export.
AU Spokesman Todd Sedmak said that AU has not released a response to the sentencing, saying the University will, "just let the facts speak for themselves."
Gao read a statement during the sentencing, The Post reported, saying she "did not mean to hurt the United States, which I love so much. But I know my actions may have done so."
Ellis questioned her as to why she committed the act and she responded that the profits would be used to finance a woman's research institute in China. Ellis responded, "The ends just don't justify the means"