A Culver City, California man was arrested Thursday on federal charges of economic espionage and violating the Arms Export Control Act for trying to sell sensitive satellite information to a person he thought was a Russian spy.
Gregory Allen Justice, 49, worked for a cleared defense contractor as an engineer on military and commercial satellites during his alleged crimes.
He made his first court appearance Friday.
The DOJ didn’t identify who Justice worked for. But the Los Angeles Times said he worked on the night shift for Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo.
Justice allegedly “stole proprietary trade secret materials from his employer and provided them to a person whom he believed to be a representative of a foreign intelligence service, but who was in fact an FBI undercover agent,” the DOJ said.
The documents contained technical data covered by the U.S. Munitions List and therefore controlled for export from the United States under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, according to the allegations.
If convicted, Justice faces up to 15 years in federal prison for economic espionage and up to 20 years in prison for violating the Arms Export Control Act.
Justice told the undercover FBI agent he needed money to pay his wife’s medical bills, according to an FBI affidavit.
But he sent much of what he got from the FBI “to a mysterious woman in a Long Beach apartment,” the affidavit said, which identified her as “C.M.”
The FBI said from December 2015 to May 2016, Justice sent C.M. more than $21,000 in FedEx envelopes, and over the past year and a half, sent her gifts that included a Dyson fan, a Vizio television, a purse, a blanket and another TV, as well as money for a $900 iPhone.
Justice’s father told the LA Times “his son’s wife had a variety of health problems, including diabetes and chronic accident-related back pain.”
“I think it will look a little different when the facts come out,” his father said.
John Carlin, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said Justice “allegedly placed his own interests of greed over our national security by providing information on sensitive U.S. technologies to a person whom he believed was a foreign agent.”
“In the wrong hands, this information could be used to harm the United States and its allies,” Carlin said.
Justice is being held without bail.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.