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Press Release

Former Department of Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty to Making False Statement and Damaging Army Computers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON – A Westfield resident who previously served in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Springfield on Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, to lying on his security clearance form and damaging U.S. Army computers.

Wei Chen, 62, pleaded guilty to making a false statement and damaging a U.S. Army computer.  U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni scheduled sentencing for March 29, 2016. 

Prior to immigrating to the United States and becoming a citizen in 2006, Chen served in the People’s Liberation Army.  In 2010, Chen applied for a job as a computer system administrator for a Department of Defense (DOD) contractor, which required him to have a Secret-level security clearance.  To obtain that clearance, Chen completed a questionnaire on which he certified that he understood that a false statement could be punished by imprisonment.  Nonetheless, in response to the form’s question about whether he had ever served in a foreign country’s military, Chen falsely answered, “no.”  Chen lied on this form because he believed that a truthful answer would reduce his chances of receiving the security clearance he needed to work as a DOD contractor.  After submitting the form with false information, Chen received a secret level security clearance and was assigned to work for the U.S. Army as a system administrator at Camp Buehring in Kuwait. 

On June 15 and 16, 2013, Chen connected one or more of his own thumb drives to computers at Camp Buehring that were connected to the Army’s unclassified network and the classified Secret-level network.  Chen then made an effort to cover his tracks and hide his security violation.  Specifically, he cleared network logs on the server that would have documented the connection of the thumb drive to the network server.  Chen also copied a computer file, containing saved e-mail and documents, from his Secret-level workstation onto his thumb drive.

The charging statutes provides a sentence of no greater than five years in prison on the false statement charge and 10 years in prison on the charge of damaging a computer, three years of supervised release, a fine of $250,000 for each charge, and forfeiture.  Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties.  Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz; Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Daniel Andrews, Director of the Computer Crime Investigative Unit of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, made the announcement.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Adam Bookbinder and B. Stephanie Siegmann of Ortiz’s Criminal Division.

Updated February 4, 2016

National Security