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Jacksonville Navy officer's wife gets time-served sentence in Chinese smuggling case

Yang Yang, 34, received the time-served sentence 14 months after she, her husband and two others were charged with trying to smuggle 'raiding' boats to China.
Credit: FCN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville Navy officer’s wife who worked for a Chinese business executive was ordered released from jail after being sentenced Wednesday for trying to smuggle American-made “raiding” boats and engines to China.

Yang Yang, 34, received the time-served sentence 14 months after she and her husband, Lt. Fan Yang, and two others were locked up on charges that prosecutors said they would prove with information gathered under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

U.S. Senior Judge Harvey Schlesinger ordered Yang to also serve two years of supervised release, a way of monitoring defendants to be sure they stay out of trouble.  

She pleaded guilty in September to two of four charges involving filing false information to the federal government’s export reporting system and trying to covertly ship the cargo through a dummy address in Hong Kong to hide the final destination.

There was no law requiring government approval to ship the Wing inflatable raiding craft and Evinrude multi-fuel engines to China.

But the Chinese executive who hired Yang as a consultant had already been turned away from an Evinrude competitor when he tried to openly buy similar equipment, which has been used for military special operations.

So Yang’s client, Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Chairman Ge Songtao, wanted Yang and his assistant to work out a way to secretly export a shipment of boats and engines that were apparently supposed to be used by a South Korean manufacturer to make copies inside China.

Yang, who was born in China and became an American citizen in 2016, took a plea deal in September that let her plead guilty to two charges that in theory could carry prison terms up to 15 years.

Ge and his administrative assistant, Zheng Yan, have taken similar deals, with Yang being the first one sentenced. 

Fan Yang, who was initially charged with the rest with conspiring to violate export laws as well as several other crimes, was indicted again last month on superseding charges.

The lieutenant, assigned before his indictment to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, is charged now with gun crimes and lying during a security-clearance review, but not export violations. He’s scheduled to stand trial in March.

Yang’s sentencing had been scheduled for January, but Schlesinger moved up the date last week.

Yang’s attorney, William Mallory Kent, had asked for her release from Baker County’s jail after her guilty plea, noting in September that sentencing guidelines suggested a term of 10 to 16 months and that it was already possible then that she might be sentenced to time served.

You can read more from our partners at the Florida Times-Union.