A former Department of Defense analyst who passed secrets to a spy from the Chinese government was sentenced Friday to nearly five years in prison.
Gregg W. Bergersen, 51, had pleaded guilty last March in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
“Mr. Bergersen predicted he would go to jail if anyone discovered he was unlawfully providing classified information to a foreign government,” Chuck Rosenberg, U.S. attorney for eastern Virginia, said in a statement. “We did. He is.”
Bergersen, an Alexandria resident, was a weapon systems policy analyst at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a group that helps allied governments improve their defenses. He became friends with Tai Shen Kuo, a U.S. citizen originally from Taiwan, who lived in New Orleans and had a business importing furniture from China.
Bergersen knew Kuo had contacts in the Taiwan Ministry of Defense, but didn’t know, according to prosecutors and defense attorneys, that Kuo was also a spy for China.
According to court records, Bergersen gave Kuo classified information last year that included details about Po Sheng, a Taiwanese defense communication system, as well as a secret report that listed all the weapon systems the U.S. planned to sell to Taiwan during the next five years.
In exchange, according to court records, Kuo bought Bergersen meals and drinks and once gave him $3,000 to play poker. Another time, Kuo stuffed $3,000 in Bergersen’s shirt pocket.
Kuo has also pleaded guilty and faces up to life in prison.
In sentencing memorandums filed in Bergersen’s case, defense attorneys claim money was not their client’s motivation. They argued Bergersen thought the information he gave Kuo would help the Taiwanese improve Po Sheng program. By helping an ally, Bergersen believed he was ultimately helping the U.S.
“To be candid, Mr. Kuo duped Mr. Bergersen,” attorneys Mark Cummings and Ross A. Nabatoff wrote in the memorandum.
Federal prosecutors doubted that. They said Bergersen was motivated by the promise of part ownership or a job paying several $100,000 a year working for a company Kuo planned to start that would get U.S. contracts to sell weapons to Taiwan.
Regardless of his motivation, passing those secrets under any circumstance was illegal.
Prosecutors had requested Bergersen receive between seven and 10 years in prison, arguing the full damage of Bergersen’s disclosures are not yet known. The defense asked that he receive between 46 and 57 months, arguing Bergersen’s disclosures didn’t jeopardize U.S. intelligence operatives and wouldn’t help China attack the U.S.
In the end, Judge Leonie Brinkema went with the high end of the defense recommendation and imposed a sentence of 57 months.