May 24 (UPI) – The U.S. Department of Justice said a California defense contractor pleaded guilty to federal charges for attempting to sell satellite secrets to a Russian spy,who was really an undercover FBI agent.

The Justice Department said Gregory Allen Justice, 49, of Culver City, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to commit economic espionage and one count of attempting to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

Justice worked as an engineer on military and commercial satellite programs for a defense contractor that had U.S. security clearance. Justice stole proprietary trade secrets from his employer and provided them to the person he thought to be a Russian spy, the Justice Department said.

Though the case sounds like Cold War fiction, Justice himself likened his situation to a contemporary tale — specifically, The Americans, a television show on FX about married Russian spies who pose as U.S. citizens in efforts to steal national intelligence secrets from Americans.

“In exchange for providing these materials during a series of meeting between February and July of 2016, Justice sought and received thousands of dollars in cash payments,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “During one meeting, Justice and the undercover agent discussed developing a relationship like one depicted on the television show ‘The Americans,’ and during their final meeting, Justice offered to take the undercover agent on a tour of his employer’s production facilities where Justice said all military spacecraft were built.”

Justice, who has been jailed since his arrest in July 26, faces up to 35 years in prison. If convicted on any counts, a judge will determine Justice’s sentence. U.S. District Judge George Wu scheduled a sentencing hearing for September 18.



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