Ex-NASA Researcher Faces Jail Time

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 A former NASA employee pled guilty last month to illegally exporting infrared military technology to South Korea.

Kue Sang Chun, 67, of Avon Lake, Ohio, admitted using his position as a researcher at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland to acquire the parts for such items as infrared focal plane array detectors and infrared camera engines, which are restricted defense items that cannot be exported without federal approval. Chun then sold the technology to a South Korean defense contractor.

Chun also pled guilty to making a false U.S. individual income tax return for 2005, which failed to report about $83,000 of taxable income he earned that year. That’s the money he made from selling the technology, authorities said.

The crimes occurred between 2002 and 2005. Justice Department officials said Chun wasn’t accused of taking technology from the research center. Rather, he acquired them from a private company. Chun’s defense attorney, John McCaffrey, was also quoted by The Plain Dealer, a Cleveland Newspaper, as saying his client’s case did not involve espionage nor treason, and noted that South Korea is an ally of the United States.

Because Chun, a South Korea-born U.S. citizen who retired from NASA in 2008, has cooperated with federal prosecutors, he could face a reduced sentence of 24 to 30 months.