Ex-U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot Found Guilty of Spying for China

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 09:14 AM, November 8, 2022
  • 757
Ex-U.S. Army Helicopter Pilot Found Guilty of Spying for China

A retired U.S. Army helicopter pilot has been sentenced to two years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to spying for China.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller handed Shapour Moinian, 67, of San Diego, Calif., the 20-month sentence on charges of acting as an agent of the Asian nation and accepting tens of thousands of dollars from representatives of the Chinese government to provide aviation-related information.

This was industrial espionage, bordering on military espionage…These were extremely serious offenses against the United States,” Miller told Moinian during sentencing, according to a statement from the Justice Department.

Moinian served the U.S. Army in the United States, Germany and South Korea from 1977 to 2000. After his service, he worked for various defense contractors used by U.S. intelligence agencies and the military, which were permitted to projects involving classified information.

U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said, “Today this defendant is being held to account for selling American technology and intellectual property to the Chinese. This crime was committed by a former member of the U.S. military who chose cash over his company and country.”

Moinian claimed while he was working for a cleared defense contractor (CDC), he was contacted by an individual in China who claimed to be working for a technical recruiting company. This person offered Moinian the opportunity to consult for the aviation industry in China.

In March of 2017, Moinian travelled to Hong Kong where he met with this purported recruiter and agreed to provide information and materials related to multiple types of aircraft designed and/or manufactured in the United States in exchange for money. Moinian accepted approximately $7,000-$10,000 in United States currency during that meeting. According to his plea agreement, at this meeting and at all subsequent meetings, Moinian knew that these individuals were employed or directed by the government of the People’s Republic of China.

Upon returning to the United States, Moinian began gathering aviation-related materials, which included transferring material from a CDC to a thumb drive. In September 2017, Moinian traveled overseas. During a stopover at the Shanghai airport, he met with Chinese government officials and provided aviation-related materials on a thumb drive, including proprietary information from a CDC. Thereafter, Moinian arranged to be paid for this information through the South Korean bank account of his stepdaughter. Moinian told his stepdaughter that these funds were payment for his consulting work overseas and instructed her to transfer the funds to him in multiple transactions.

Moinian also received a cell phone and other equipment from these individuals to communicate with them and aid in the electronic transfer of materials and information.

At the end of March 2018, Moinian traveled to Bali and met with these same individuals again. Later that year, he began working at another CDC. During this timeframe, the same individuals in China transferred thousands of dollars into the South Korean bank account of Moinian’s stepdaughter, who subsequently wired the funds to Moinian in multiple transactions.

In August 2019, Moinian traveled again to Hong Kong and met with these same individuals where he was again paid approximately $22,000 in cash for his services. Moinian and his wife smuggled this cash back into the United States.

Moinian also admitted that he lied on his government background questionnaires in July 2017 and March 2020, when he falsely stated that did not have any close or continuing contacts with foreign nationals and that no foreign national had offered him a job.

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