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Press Release

Federal Jury Convicts Three Defendants of Interstate Stalking of Chinese Nationals in the U.S. and Two of Those Defendants for Acting or Conspiring to Act on Behalf of the People's Republic of China

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Retired NYPD Sergeant and Co-Conspirators are First Defendants Convicted After a U.S. Trial in Connection with PRC’s Repatriation Program “Operation Fox Hunt”

Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn returned guilty verdicts against three defendants on multiple counts of a superseding indictment charging them with acting and conspiring to act in the United States as illegal agents of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) without prior notification to the Attorney General.  Defendant Michael McMahon was convicted of acting as an illegal agent of the PRC, conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking.  Defendant Zhu Yong, also known as “Jason Zhu”, was convicted of conspiracy to act as an illegal agent of the PRC, acting as an illegal agent of the PRC, conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking.  Defendant Zheng Congying was convicted of conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking.  Defendants McMahon and Zhu knowingly acted at the direction of PRC government officials to conduct surveillance and engage in a campaign to harass, stalk, and coerce certain residents of the United States to return to the PRC as part of a global and extralegal repatriation effort known as “Operation Fox Hunt.”  Defendant Zheng engaged in interstate stalking of the same victims, leaving a threatening note at their residence.  Today’s verdict followed a three-week trial before United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen.  When sentenced, McMahon faces up to 20 years in prison, Zhu faces up to 25 years in prison, and Zheng faces up to 10 years in prison.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Matthew G. Olsen, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, James E. Dennehy, Special Agent-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Jersey Field Office (FBI), and Ivan J. Arvelo, Special Agent-in-Charge, Homeland Security Investigations, New York (HSI), announced the verdict.

“The jury’s verdict confirms that defendants McMahon and Zhu knowingly acted at the direction of a hostile foreign state to harass, intimidate and attempt to cause the involuntary return of a resident of the New York metropolitan area to the People’s Republic of China, and that defendant Zheng harassed and intimidated that same person and his family,” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “It is particularly troubling that defendant Michael McMahon, a former sergeant in the New York City Police Department, engaged in surveillance, harassment, and stalking on behalf of a foreign power for money.  We will remain steadfast in exposing and undermining efforts by the Chinese government to reach across our border and perpetrate transnational repression schemes targeting victims in the United States in violation of our laws.” 

Mr. Peace expressed his thanks to the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, and the FBI’s New York Field Office for their valuable assistance with the investigation.

“The defendants engaged in a campaign of harassment and coercion on behalf of the PRC to force the victim’s repatriation to China from the United States, including by threatening family members,” stated Assistant Attorney General Olsen.  “The Department of Justice will hold accountable those who would help repressive regimes violate the fundamental freedoms of people in the U.S.”

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Dennehy stated:  “We hope this verdict serves as a message to other operatives in the United States working right now at the behest of the People’s Republic of China in its effort to silence those who speak out against it. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are watching, and we are taking action to stop the stalking, threatening, and repressing of dissidents. A specific takeaway, private investigators will face consequences if they wittingly ignore the warning signs that they may be part of a larger plot to illegally harass and coerce people by a foreign power. If you have concerns, reach out to us.”

“Today’s verdict reinforces HSI’s commitment to aggressively combat any illegal intrusions by the Chinese government to target, threaten, harass, surveil, coerce and intimidate legal residents of the United States,” stated HSI New York Special Agent-in-Charge Arvelo.  “Rather than engaging proper officials through lawful diplomatic channels, PRC officials and intermediaries acting on their behalf have engaged in illegal conduct in the United States to carry out their goals. HSI will leverage all of its law enforcement partnerships and utilize all investigative tools to disrupt attempts by international actors to circumvent our laws, undermine our national security, and target U.S. residents.”

As proven at trial, between approximately 2016 and 2019, the defendants participated in an international campaign with members of the PRC government as part of “Operation Fox Hunt” to threaten, harass, surveil, and intimidate John Doe #1 and his family, to force John Doe #1 and his wife, Jane Doe #1, to return to the PRC.  In or around 2015, the PRC government caused the International Criminal Police Organization (also known as “Interpol”), an inter-governmental law enforcement organization, to issue “Red Notices” for John Doe #1 and Jane Doe #1 alleging that both persons were wanted by the PRC government on corruption-related charges.

Zhu hired McMahon, a retired NYPD sergeant working as a private investigator, who obtained detailed information about John Doe #1, his wife, and his daughter from a law enforcement database and other government databases, then reported back to Zhu and others, including a PRC police officer, what he had learned.  McMahon also conducted surveillance outside the New Jersey home of John Doe #1’s sister-in-law and provided Zhu and PRC officials with detailed reports of what he had observed.  The operation was supervised and directed by several PRC officials, including co-conspirators Hu Ji, a PRC police officer with the Wuhan Public Security Bureau, and Tu Lan, a PRC prosecutor with the Wuhan Procuratorate.

In April 2017, Tu Lan and Hu Ji transported John Doe #1’s then-82-year-old father from the PRC to the New Jersey home of John Doe #1’s sister-in-law to attempt to convince John Doe #1 to return to the PRC.  The testimony established that John Doe #1’s father was brought by a PRC doctor and charged co-conspirator, Li Minjun, and that while John Doe #1’s father was in the United States, his daughter was threatened with jailing in the PRC.  A co-conspirator conducted surveillance of the home during the visit, wearing night-vision goggles provided by the PRC doctor and PRC prosecutor.  McMahon tailed John Doe #1 from the meeting with his elderly father, back to his home, and provided John Doe #1’s address—which was previously unknown—to the PRC operatives.

In October 2016 and April 2017, McMahon emailed himself a China Daily News article titled “Interpol Launches Global Dragnet for 100 Chinese Fugitives,” which stated, “Amid the nation’s intensifying antigraft campaign, arrest warrants were issued by Interpol China for former State employees and others suspected of a wide range of corrupt practices.  China Daily was authorized by the Chinese justice authorities to publish the information below.”  The article provided a list of photographs and identifying information about Operation Fox Hunt targets by the PRC government, including those of John Doe #1 and Jane Doe #1.

On September 4, 2018, Zheng drove to the New Jersey residence of John Doe #1 and Jane Doe #1 and pounded on the front door.  He and a coconspirator attempted to force open the door to the residence, then left a note that stated “If you are willing to go back to the mainland and spend 10 years in prison, your wife and children will be all right.  That’s the end of this matter!” 

Previously, three other defendants pled guilty in connection with their roles in the PRC-directed harassment and intimidation campaign.

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section.  Assistant United States Attorneys Craig R. Heeren, Meredith A. Arfa, and Irisa Chen are in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Christine A. Bonomo of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, and Paralegal Specialist Mary Clare McMahon.   

The Defendants:

Age:  55
Mahwah, New Jersey

ZHU YONG (also known as “Jason Zhu”)
Age:  66
Queens, New York

Age:  27
Brooklyn, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-265 (S-1) (PKC)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated June 20, 2023

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