- - Friday, July 17, 2009

CALIFORNIA

Ex-engineer guilty in shuttle espionage

LOS ANGELES — An ex-Boeing engineer was found guilty Thursday of passing space shuttle technology secrets to China after becoming the first person tried under a 1996 federal law that bans theft of trade secrets for the benefit of a foreign government.

A federal judge who heard the case without a jury convicted Dongfan “Greg” Chung, 73, of conspiracy to commit economic espionage, economic espionage to benefit a foreign country, acting as an agent of the People's Republic of China and making false statements to the FBI.

Mr. Chung has been an agent of the People's Republic of China for over 30 years,” U.S. District Judge Cormac Carney said in his written verdict. “The court must now hold Mr. Chung accountable for his crimes.”

Judge Carney acquitted Chung, a naturalized U.S. citizen, on a count of obstruction of justice.

Chung could face decades in federal prison when he is sentenced Nov. 9.

FLORIDA

Slain couple’s safe found

PENSACOLA — Investigators have found a safe stolen during a precisely executed, deadly break-in at the home of a wealthy Florida Panhandle couple, authorities said Thursday.

Melanie and Byrd Billings, who were known for adopting 13 children with special needs, were fatally shot last week. Surveillance cameras captured footage of masked men — some dressed as ninjas — slipping into front and back doors of the home near Pensacola.

Eight people have been charged — seven with murder and one with being an accessory after the fact.

State Attorney Bill Eddins would not say where the safe was found, what was in it or what else might have been taken from the home.

He also said investigators have found several guns, including at least one they think was used to kill the Billingses.

Deputies on Wednesday arrested the eighth suspect, Pamela Long Wiggins, 47, charging her with accessory after the fact to murder, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.

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