UCLA Professor Faces 200+ Year Sentence for Smuggling Tech to China

Royce Hall UCLA
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Former University of California professor Yi-Chi Shih has been found guilty on 18 federal charges for funneling American military technology to China.

The 64-year-old electrical engineer has been found guilty of handing stolen U.S. military technology to the Chinese government. Now he faces several lifetimes’ worth of time in a federal prison. Shih’s co-defendant, Kiet Ahn Mai, already pleaded guilty to smuggling charges in December 2018.

The former Los Angeles professor posed as a customer in order to obtain the “monolithic microwave integrated circuits” (MMICs) used in missiles and aircraft on China’s behalf. He was paid for his efforts, which — obviously — he did not choose to report for income tax purposes.

Shih’s charges include mail fraud, wire fraud, subscribing to a false tax return, making false statements to a government agency, conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and conspiracy to commit cybertheft.

“The Department’s China Initiative is focused on preventing and prosecuting thefts of American technology and intellectual property for the benefit of China,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. “The defendant has been found guilty of conspiring to export sensitive semiconductor chips with military applications to China.”

Demers thanked prosecutors for their efforts and law enforcement agents, including the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

In a statement, FBI Assistant Director in Charge Paul Delacourt said:

The FBI is committed to protecting institutions from adversaries who seek to steal sensitive American technology under the guise of research. We will continue to work collaboratively with our federal partners to identify and hold accountable individuals who plunder our research or intellectual property at the expense of the American people and our national security.

At the time of this writing, no date has been set for Shih’s formal sentencing. It is, however, virtually certain that Shih will spend the remainder of his life behind bars.


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