(Los Angeles Times) It t looked easy enough on the FX television series “The Americans,” in which a pair of married Russian spies, posing as U.S. citizens, enlist the aid of Americans to steal national intelligence secrets.
It’s not so simple in real life, however.
That’s what a defense contracting engineer learned the hard way Monday after agreeing to plead guilty to selling sensitive satellite information to an undercover FBI agent who masqueraded as a Russian intelligence officer, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City had been accused of economic espionage and violating the Arms Export Control Act, federal authorities said. He is expected to be sentenced Sept. 18 and faces up to 35 years in prison.
Justice worked on commercial and military satellites sold to the U.S. Air Force, Navy and NASA, federal court records show. As an engineer, he had access to proprietary trade secrets, including anti-jamming technology, encryption plans for communication with satellites and technical data covered by the United States Munitions List, federal authorities said.
Because some of the trade secrets were sensitive, they were restricted, under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, from being disseminated outside the U.S.
But, according to court records, Justice bypassed multiple measures taken by the defense contractor to maintain secrecy.
Authorities caught wind of Justice’s actions in November 2015 when they ran a check of his computer and noticed he had inserted a USB device containing five folders with detailed mechanical drawings and design information for a satellite program.
That set off alarms within the intelligence community and sparked an investigation into Justice’s personal life.
Federal authorities discovered Justice, who had been working at the defense firm since 2000, had spent more than $4,000 for several online courses, including “Spy Escape and Evasion,” “Legally Concealed,” “Fight Fast” and “Survival Publications.”
When authorities searched his car, they found handwritten notes with addresses for the Consulate General of Russia in San Francisco and the Embassy of the Russian Federation and its Office of the Defense, Military, Air and Naval Attaches, both in Washington, D.C. . . . (read article)
Engineer at Boeing admits trying to sell space secrets to Russians (Ars Technia)
Gregory Allen Justice, a 49-year-old engineer living in Culver City, Calif., has pleaded guilty to charges of attempted economic espionage and attempted violation of the Export Control Act. Justice, who according to his father worked for Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo, Calif., was arrested last July after selling technical documents about satellite systems to someone he believed to be a Russian intelligence agent. Instead, he sold the docs to an undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation employee. The sting was part of a joint operation by the FBI and the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations. . . .
Defense worker from Culver City admits selling satellite secrets to FBI agent posing as Russian spy (Daily Breeze)
A defense contractor from Culver City with an affinity for Jason Bourne, James Bond and the television show “The Americans,” pleaded guilty Monday to selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed was a Russian spy, prosecutors said. Gregory Allen Justice, 49, could be sent to federal prison for up to 35 years.
Justice, an engineer who worked for an unidentified defense contractor, stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to someone posing as a Russian intelligence agent. The “spy” was actually an undercover FBI employee, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Published reports quoted Justice’s father as saying Justice worked for Boeing Satellite Systems in El Segundo. . . .
DOJ PRESS RELEASE – 22 May 2017
Defense Contractor Employee Pleads Guilty to Selling Satellite Secrets to Undercover Agent Posing as Russian Spy
LOS ANGELES – An engineer who worked for a cleared defense contractor pleaded guilty today to federal charges of economic espionage and violating of the Arms Export Control Act for selling sensitive satellite information to a person he believed to be an agent of a Russian intelligence service.
Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, who worked as an engineer on military and commercial satellite programs, pleaded guilty to two felony offenses that could send him to federal prison for as long as 35 years.
According to a plea agreement filed in this case, Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to a person he believed to be a Russian agent – but who in fact was an undercover FBI employee.
In addition to their proprietary nature, the documents contained technical data covered by the United States Munitions List and therefore were subject to controls restricting export from the United States under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments. During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show “The Americans,” and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built, according to the plea agreement.
Justice specifically pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act.
Justice pleaded guilty before United States District Judge George Wu, who scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18. Justice has been in custody since his arrest last July.
The case against Justice was investigated by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.
Prosecutors from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section of the United States Attorney’s Office and the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.