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Judge: Naval officer is 'danger to national security'

Bond denied for Navy Lieutenant Fan Yang, whose San Jose home was raided by FBI

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Calling him "a danger to national security," a judge on Wednesday denied bond for a Jacksonville Navy lieutenant whose home was raided by agents with the FBI and NCIS.

Documents show Fan Yang, a Chinese-born man who became an officer with the U.S. Navy, has connections to Chinese nationals. He and his wife, Yang Yang, have been charged with conspiracy to violate federal law, specifically prohibitions on firearm possession by an alien admitted under nonimmigrant visa and transfer of a firearm to a nonresident between March 2017 and Sept. 2019.

During a court hearing Wednesday, a judge determined Yang Yang "is a danger to herself and potentially others." Records show she has been suicidal before and was hospitalized after the birth of their first child for postpartum depression, and she is not receiving treatment.

An attorney representing the U.S. government argued that its primary concern is whether Fan Yang is a flight risk, saying he knows some of the nation's top secrets.

"Mr. Yang's head has the golden ticket. A bargaining chip," the attorney told the court. "Adversaries could be inclined to get him out and gain the intel he has."

The government argued that it feels the Yangs underreported their assets to pretrial services. So far, the Department of Justice has found $109,000 in liquid cash across 10 accounts and two banks, plus more than $100,000 in investment accounts.

"They have substantial assets to help them that are liquid if they are thinking to abscond," the attorney told the court.

The government also focused on Fan yang's pattern of deception on an ATF gun background form and the national security clearance review with the Navy. The I-TEAM uncovered documents that show the Navy lieutenant lied on the forms.

Ge Song Tao, a Chinese defense contractor with connections to the couple, is also facing charges. During questioning Thursday, Fan Yang first insisted Ge Song Tao was a social media acquaintance, but when confronted with evidence, he admitted they had met several times in Nebraska and in Jacksonville.

Ge Song Tao and Zheng Yan, a resident of the People's Republic of China also known as "the Mistress," will be extradited to Jacksonville. Zheng Yan and Yang Yang are accused of trying to buy multiple inflatable boats that were to be sent to the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries Bureau, according to court documents.

In addition, the government claimed Yang Yang lied during questioning and that she lied to the bank when she opened BQ Tree LLC, saying it would sell cellphones and office supplies. The government said the couple lied on their taxes.

Dale Carson is one of four private attorneys representing Fan Yang and Yang Yang against the weight of the U.S. government.

"Simply because they say it's true doesn't make it so, and we all know that," Carson told News4Jax.

When asked if he could say whether his client's loyalties are with the United States or China, Carson responded: "He's a U.S. citizen. He's sworn allegiance to the United States as part of being a naturalized citizen, so I don't have any reason to question that at all. The government's position may be different, you'll have to ask them."

Carson and his team tried to argue for ankle monitoring and the establishment of a third party, a relative, to live with the Yangs and make sure they don't attempt to flee. The judge rejected the idea, finding the case is unusual with multiple deceptions to several government agencies coupled with Fan Yang's knowledge, the risk was too great.

About the Authors:

Lynnsey Gardner is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning investigative reporter and fill-in anchor for The Local Station.

Lifetime Jacksonville resident, journalist and experienced broadcast news producer with a passion for classic and exotic cars.