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Off to prison: Former Naval Base Ventura County sailor gets prison sentence for spying for China

Bill Oxford

Thomas Zhao gets 27 month federal prison sentence.

A former Naval Base Ventura County sailor has been sentenced to more than two years in federal prison for spying for China. Prosecutors say Thomas Zhao supplied a Chinese intelligence agent with documents, photos, and videos of Navy facilities and operations.

He had security clearance to access some classified materials. The information given to the Chinese government included plans for a large scale military exercise in the Indo-Pacific region.

Investigators say Zhao received nearly $15,000 in bribes, and that he used encrypted communications to transmit the information, then destroyed the evidence.

After being arrested, he pled guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of accepting a bribe.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.