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Discharged Navy sailor gets prison in scheme to export U.S. military equipment to China

A gavel cracks down. (Airman 1st Class Aspen Reid/U.S. Air Force)

Ye San Wang was deployed to Iraq in 2018 when a package she had ordered online arrived at Naval Special Warfare Command base in Coronado, home to the Navy SEALs.

She told her command, where she worked in supply and logistics, that it was something she had ordered for her husband for a camping trip. Instead, the package contained military equipment for her husband to sell to China for profit.

The item — a device used to identify U.S. military personal in the field — was among several that Wang, who goes by the nickname Ivy, obtained for her husband’s resale business through her Navy credentials, according to prosecutors.

On Tuesday, Wang, 37, was sentenced in San Diego federal court to 2½ years in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.

The hearing comes almost a year after her husband, Shaohua “Eric” Wang, was sentenced to nearly four years prison in the scheme.

Ivy Wang, a Chinese national, moved to the U.S. in 2002, attended high school in Los Angeles and attended UC San Diego before enlisting in the Navy at the age of 21 and becoming a U.S. citizen shortly after.

In her plea agreement, Ivy Wang admitted to using her credentials and position in logistics to purchase export-controlled military equipment for his business from 2015 to 2019. Her husband — a former officer in the People’s Liberation Army of China — would then illegally export and store the equipment at a warehouse in China, where he connected with buyers, prosecutors said.

Wang returned from Iraq about seven months after the purported camping equipment package had arrived in Coronado. Law enforcement was already on to her by then. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service had opened an investigation into her based on allegations of suspicious behavior, and a review of her emails revealed the procurement scheme, according to court records.

Wang agreed to an interview by investigators, and she admitted to knowing about her husband’s illegal military export business.

Still, she brought the package home and gave it to her husband. Investigators had secretly disabled the device.

Her husband later sent a message to a customer confirming he had the item but explained he could not ship it yet to China because “they are still investigating me … My friend is a SEAL who also got involved. They are investigating him as well,” he wrote, according to prosecutors. It was unclear to whom he was referring, or if more service members have been implicated.

Wang told investigators that her husband sent her an Excel spreadsheet with items for her to buy for him, according to court records. But after she grew tired of his insistent requests, she gave him her log-in credentials and told him to pose as her and order them himself.

When investigators served a search warrant on the Wang home in December 2018, they found two military ballistic helmets in their garage and two in their Range Rover. Prosecutors allege the helmets were stolen: three serial numbers traced back to Wang’s command on Coronado and a fourth to an explosive ordnance disposal unit to which she had access.

“Ms. Wang betrayed her oath to the U.S. Navy and ultimately threatened the operational readiness and safety of our nation’s military by attempting to acquire and illegally export sensitive military equipment to China,” said Special Agent in Charge Joshua Flowers of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Southwest Field Office.

Wang’s defense attorneys, Peter Blair and Hamilton Arendsen, said she was influenced by an abusive, cheating husband and grappling with mental health issues from her military service, which included four overseas deployments.

She was discharged from service in September after pleading guilty.


© 2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.