Employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Charged with Making False Statements to Obtain Security Clearance
DETROIT – An Ypsilanti man pleaded guilty this week to making several false statements in his security clearance application for a job working with the United States Navy overseas, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
Ison was joined in the announcement by James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to court records, Yifei Chu, age 57, a naturalized U.S. citizen and recent employee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), applied for a three-year detailed assignment to the United States Embassy in Singapore working for the United States Navy. To obtain this position, Chu was required to apply for and obtain a security clearance. Chu made several false statements in his security clearance application during an interview with federal background investigators and in an affidavit he signed regarding his security clearance application.
Chu’s false statements were made to hide his extensive contacts with members of the Taiwanese Navy and a Taiwanese company. These contacts included the fact that Chu was hired by the Taiwanese company to provide consulting services on a “classified” Taiwanese Navy project, was paid money by the Taiwanese company, and that he traveled to Taiwan on multiple occasions to meet with members of the Taiwanese Navy on a military base in Taiwan in performance of his consulting services.
Chu pleaded guilty to both counts charged in the indictment: (1) making false statements and (2) falsifying records in a federal investigation. Chu faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the false statements charge, and a maximum of twenty years in prison on the false record in a federal investigation charge. Sentencing is set for August 15, 2023 before United States District Judge Victoria A. Roberts.
“It is vital that those individuals who gain access to classified information related to our national defense are truthful and honest about their connections to foreign governments so that our nation’s military secrets do not end up in the wrong hands,” said United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison.
“This case is about more than just lying on a job application,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office. “In order to obtain a position with the U.S. Navy, Chu attempted to hide his extensive contacts with the Taiwanese government, potentially giving them access to our nation’s classified information and military technology. The FBI continues to work tirelessly to ensure only the most trusted people have access to the U.S. Government’s sensitive information.”
The case was investigated by the FBI and handled by Assistant United States Attorney Ronald Waterstreet.