WASHINGTON (WASHINGTON POST) - A woman who worked for Air China at John F. Kennedy Airport pleaded guilty on Wednesday (April 17) to acting on behalf of the Chinese government by placing unscreened packages on a flight from New York to Beijing.
Ying Lin, who is from Queens and also goes by the name Randi or Randy, was working at the direction of Chinese military personnel stationed at China's permanent mission to the United Nations, according to the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Lin, a naturalised US citizen, worked for Air China from 2002 through 2015 at JFK and then at Newark Liberty International Airport through April 2016. She could face up to 10 years' imprisonment when sentenced.
"This case is a stark example of the Chinese government using the employees of Chinese companies doing business here to engage in illegal activity," Assistant Attorney-General John Demers said in a statement.
"Covertly doing the Chinese military's bidding on US soil is a crime, and Lin and the Chinese military took advantage of a commercial enterprise to evade legitimate US government oversight."
It is not known what was in the packages sent to Beijing.
In exchange for her help, the Chinese government provided her tax-exempt purchases of discounted liquor and electronics available only to diplomats, according to court documents, as well as free contracting work at her residence.
"Ms Lin was secreting packages through some of the country's busiest airports, using her work with the Chinese government to thwart our security measures," said Mr William Sweeney, assistant director-in-charge of the FBI's New York field office.
"We believe this case isn't unique and hope it serves as an example that the Chinese and other foreign governments can't break our laws with impunity."