JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – U.S. Navy Lt. Fan Yang and his wife Yang Yang sat before a judge Tuesday morning in federal court and formally entered pleas of not guilty.
The 34-year-olds, escorted in and out of the court room by U.S. Marshals, said they understood their rights.
Through their attorneys, Dale Carson and Bill Kent, they entered not guilty pleas to a number of charges. An assistant U.S. Attorney said if convicted on all counts, they each could spend 25 years in prison and have to pay $1 million in fines.
Federal agents are attempting to link Fan Yang and Yang Yang to a scheme to smuggle inflatable boats and military-use engines to China. They allegedly made more than $200,000 in the scheme. Details started to come out after the FBI and NCIS raided the Yangs' Jacksonville home off San Jose Boulevard.
The News4Jax I-TEAM learned agents are concerned that's just the tip of the iceberg and that the Yangs could have been involved in something more sinister, like leaking top secret information from the U.S. military to the Chinese government. Investigators have said the couple lied about their contact with potential foreign operatives.
Yang Yang used to work for an attorney in New York and has knowledge about the legal system. She asked for access to law books in jail. The judge granted that request.
The discovery deadline has been set for Nov. 19. Other motions must be in by Dec. 3. A status conference is scheduled for Dec. 11 at 10 a.m and the trial has been set for Jan. 6.
Yesterday, their codefendants, Chinese nationals Ge Songtao and Zheng Yan, also pleaded not guilty.
All four remain in federal custody.