Former Sandia Corporation Scientist Sentenced for Taking Government Property to China
ALBUQUERQUE – Jianyu Huang, a scientist formerly employed by Sandia Corporation (Sandia) at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of a year and a day for the crimes of making a false statement within the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy (DOE), and unlawfully transporting stolen government property in interstate and foreign commerce. The sentence was announced by U.S. Attorney Damon P. Martinez and Special Agent in Charge Carol K.O. Lee of the FBI’s Albuquerque Division.
Huang, 46, a naturalized U.S. citizen from the People’s Republic of China who resides in Albuquerque, N.M., was arrested in June 2012, on a six-count indictment charging him with misusing U.S. government resources and equipment to conduct research for Chinese research institutions and with falsely stating that he did not intend to take U.S. government equipment with him on a trip to China. The indictment subsequently was superseded to add an interstate transportation of converted property charge and a theft of government property charge. Huang was employed by Sandia until his employment was terminated in late April 2012. On August 25, 2014, Huang pleaded guilty to the false statement and transportation of stolen property charges.
SNL is a government-owned research facility operated by Sandia Corporation for DOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) that is responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s nuclear stockpile; enhancing the security of energy and other critical resources; reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; addressing threats to national security; and protecting the nation against terrorism. The Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) is a DOE user facility and science research center devoted to establishing scientific principles that govern the design, performance, and integration of materials on the atomic and molecular scale, located at SNL. CINT is comprised of a core facility at Sandia and a Gateway Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
In light of the sensitivity of SNL’s work, all Sandia employees are required to report to the Sandia Office of Counterintelligence (SOC) any substantive relationship with foreign nationals, including associations that involve meeting and sharing work-related information. Sandia employees also are required to submit to interviews with SOC before international travel on official business, and are prohibited from bringing government-owned equipment on international travel without prior approval.
Huang was employed by Sandia at CINT, where he worked in an unclassified open science facility without access to classified national security information. As a Sandia employee, Huang was prohibited from bringing government-owned equipment on international travel without prior approval.
Counts 1 through 5 of the second superseding indictment charged Huang with federal program fraud and alleged that between Jan. 2009 and Jan. 2012, Huang unlawfully and without authority used DOE equipment, materials and property to conduct research for businesses and universities in the People’s Republic of China. Count 6 charged Huang with making a false statement charge to a federal officer and alleged that, in June 2011, Huang falsely represented to a counterintelligence officer that he would not take any U.S. government electronic equipment with him on an upcoming trip to the People’s Republic of China. The statement was false because Huang knew that he intended to take a U.S. government computer and hard-drive to the People’s Republic of China on that trip, and did in fact take that equipment with him. Count 7 charged Huang with the interstate transportation of converted property charge and alleged that between June 30, 2011 and July 18, 2011, Huang unlawfully transported a DOE-owned laptop computer and computer-related media in interstate and foreign commerce. Count 8 charged Huang with an embezzlement charge and alleged that between April 25, 2012 and June 2, 2012, Huang embezzled electronic files and documents, including research proposals, belonging to DOE that came into his possession by virtue of his employment with SNL.
In his plea agreement, Huang admitted taking a trip to China in July 2011, for the purpose of attending and making a presentation at a research conference. Huang acknowledged that in seeking and obtaining Sandia’s permission to participate in the conference, he represented that he would not take any DOE-owned equipment with him. Huang also admitted deliberately lying to a counterintelligence office when he made the representation because he intended to take his DOE-owned laptop on the trip.
Huang admitted taking a DOE-owned laptop computer with him when he traveled to China on June 30 and July 1, 2011, even though he knew that he did not have permission to do so. In so doing, Huang unlawfully converted the laptop computer to his own use. According to Huang’s plea agreement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized the DOE-owned laptop from Huang’s baggage when he returned to the United States on July 18, 2011, after Huang admitted that he did not have permission to take the laptop computer out of the country.
At this afternoon’s hearing, the court accepted the terms of the plea agreement and sentenced Huang to a year and a day in federal prison followed by a year of supervised release.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque Division of the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathon M. Gerson.