Naval Petty Officer Sentenced In Case

There’s growing rumblings over the sentencing of Wenheng Zhao who was convicted of selling classified military data to China.

So, a Navy Petty Officer named Wenheng Zhao, just 26 years old from Monterey Park, California, found himself in deep waters. He was sentenced to a little over two years – 27 months, to be precise – in prison after pleading guilty to being bribed for sending sensitive military information to a Chinese intelligence officer.

Now, this is a big deal. Zhao faced charges of conspiring with an intelligence officer and receiving a bribe. He could have been looking at up to 20 years in prison – that’s 15 years for the conspiracy charge and 5 for the bribery. But he ended up with a 27-month sentence and a $5,500 fine. What strikes me here is the gravity of the situation versus the length of the sentence. What do you think about that?

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen from the Justice Department’s National Security Division said, “Mr. Zhao betrayed his solemn oath to defend his country and endangered those who serve in the U.S. military.” Strong words, right? And it makes you think about the responsibility that comes with such positions.

Zhao was paid at least $14,866 by this Chinese intelligence officer and in exchange, he provided information on U.S. Navy operational security, military trainings, exercises, and even critical infrastructure. That’s a lot of sensitive data, and it’s chilling to think about the potential consequences.

Zhao worked at the Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, California, and he had a security clearance. Between August 2021 and May 2023, he accessed restricted locations to gather this information. The data he passed along included plans for a large-scale training exercise in the Pacific and details on a radar system in Okinawa, Japan.

U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada pointed out that Zhao “betrayed his country and disgraced himself.” He’s been removed from the military and is now serving time. This case highlights the constant vigilance needed to protect our nation’s security.

A sailor who took an oath betrayed the country and is only getting 27 months? Meanwhile…


The FBI Los Angeles Field Office, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, and the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit led this investigation.

 

 

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