Defense Contractor Employee Pleads Guilty to Selling Satellite Secrets to Undercover Agent Posing as Russian Spy
LOS ANGELES – An engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor pleaded guilty today to federal charges of economic espionage and violating of the Arms Export Control Act for selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service.
Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, who worked as an engineer on military and commercial satellite programs, pleaded guilty to two felony offenses that could send him to federal prison for as long as 35 years.
According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.
In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the United States Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the United States under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.
Justice specifically pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act.
Justice pleaded guilty before United States District Judge George Wu, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18. Justice has been in custody since his arrest last July.
The case against Justice was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Prosecutors from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the United States Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.