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Man gets prison time in plot to ship military boats to China

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Chinese man was sentenced Wednesday to 42 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to attempting to illegally export military-model boats and engines to China, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Florida’s Middle District announced Friday.

Ge Songtao, 51, previously pleaded guilty in November in federal court in Jacksonville to conspiring to submit false information to fraudulently export maritime raiding craft and engines to China and trying to fraudulently export that equipment, federal court records show.

As part of his sentence, Ge Songtao was ordered to forfeit nearly $115,000, the same amount of money wired to a U.S. manufacturer to acquire the boats and equipment involved in the conspiracy.

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The 51-year-old was the chairman of Shanghai Breeze Technology Co. Ltd. at the time that Yang Yang, an employee of the Shanghai-based company and a co-defendant in the case, tried to purchase seven of the boats equipped with engines that can run on gasoline, diesel or jet fuel, according to court records.

The rubber combat-style boats and multifuel engines used by the U.S. military can be launched from a submarine or deployed by aircraft. No comparable engine is available in China.

Yang resisted suggestions from the manufacturer to buy gas-powered engines, insisting on buying the multifuel engines, prosecutors said. They said she lied about her customer being based in Hong Kong, knowing the manufacturer was more likely to sell to a client there instead of one in mainland China.

To facilitate the purchase, Ge Songtao arranged for wire transfers to a Hong Kong company, which in turn wired nearly $115,000 to the U.S. manufacturer. He also made arrangements for an employee to go to Hong Kong to acquire the boats and engines and then ship them to the mainland.

Yang and another co-defendant, Zheng Fan, have already been sentenced after pleading guilty to their roles in the scheme. Another co-defendant, Fan Yang, is awaiting trial in August on a list of charges related to the case.