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Woman takes plea deal in federal case involving Navy lieutenant, Chinese nationals

A UCF-area bar had its alcohol license suspended after patrons and employees tested positive for COVID-19.
A UCF-area bar had its alcohol license suspended after patrons and employees tested positive for COVID-19. (pixabay.com)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Chinese national has pleaded guilty to filing false information with the federal authorities in order to export items prohibited by the U.S. government, according to court documents.

Zheng Yan accepted the plea deal and has agreed to cooperate with authorities. She and Ge Song Tao are charged with helping Navy Lt. Fan Yang and his wife Yang Yang in what the government said was a conspiracy to smuggle military-style boat engines to China. They’re also accused of conspiring to violate firearms law.

Zheng Yan faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine dollar fine. Other charges against her were dropped. She has a January sentencing date.

Federal prosecutors said the investigation revealed a threat to national security, and called Lt. Yang a flight risk. Lawyers for the suspects have filed multiple motions for release pending trial, but they’ve all been denied.

The other three defendants are scheduled for trial in February.