Ruins Arrest 145 destroyed good portion 146 of Wang 146 s life

Arrest ‘destroyed good portion’ of Wang’s life

GUILDERLAND — The federal government had admitted it made a mistake in charging Jun Wang with international arms trafficking, and this month dropped the charges. But Wang — a highly regarded scientist who has worked in this country for 13 years — lost his job and may be deported.

Wang and his wife, Yu Zhao, sat side by side in the cozy kitchen of their 28 Westmere Terrace home last week and talked about what their family has gone through and what is going to happen next.

Their baby slept quietly as they spoke candidly about their dilemma.
"I didn’t feel that I did anything wrong; why should I go to jail"" questioned Wang.
A microbiologist who grew up in Beijing, Wang was indicted in March for shipping to China palm-sized devices that the government described as "weapons-grade." In April, the assistant United States attorney prosecuting the case admitted the devices were classified as dual-use technology regulated by the Department of Commerce.
Wang’s lawyer, Kevin Luibrand, said at the time the "overstated charges" were nothing more than an alleged failure to complete proper shipping forms since the materials were commercial, not military grade.
"We argued early on that there were no basis for these charges," said Luibrand, but added that, "The Justice Department acted entirely appropriately." Luibrand explained that the Justice Department was told by the State Department that Wang purchased illegal technology. The same technology was sold in China, said Luibrand. "I told them the State Department was wrong."

Wang was in custody for 27 days at several area jails and then an immigration detention center in Buffalo. He had lost his job as a research scientist soon after the charges were filed because Wang’s employer said he used his work computer for personal business. Wang was allowed to go home on April 12 under strict confinement and surveillance; he was deemed a possible flight risk at the time, by Magistrate Randolph F. Treece.
"Destroyed a good portion of his life"

The charges were officially dropped on May 12, and, six hours later, Wang’s electronic ankle monitor was removed, making him a free man. But, without a job, Wang’s exceptional-scientist visa was revoked and the deportation process began, according to Luibrand.
"The problem is that the arrest began a sequence of events that destroyed a good portion of his life," Luibrand told The Enterprise. "He was working on his fourth major project when he was arrested."

Wang worked at Health Research Incorporated, a non-profit organization contracted under the New York State Department of Health. During his trial, Wang’s employers described him as a superb employee, but said he was fired for misusing his office computer. A sports website,, and defense contractor websites were among those found on Wang’s computer, they said, but Wang denies those allegations.
"That is totally wrong. Is G.E. a defense contractor" Was I going to buy a microwave"" asked Wang.

Luibrand told The Enterprise earlier that an HRI representative indicated Wang was fired because the charges against him could affect its grant money, and not for visiting inappropriate websites.
"I’m not the kind of person who sits there on the Internet," said Wang. "I work hard."

Wang said that he bought the aviation-testing equipment here in America because the same technology is much less expensive here than in China.
"You can buy it in China, but the businesses act as a middleman over there, and they sell it at a marked-up price. It’s much cheaper to buy it here," Wang said. "It’s almost 50-percent more expensive in China, so, of course, you want to buy it here.
"People don’t understand the technology involved"They see technology and think it can be used for anything," Wang told The Enterprise. "I asked a salesperson whether they were illegal or not, I was very careful."
Crossbow, which manufactures the device, does not describe any munitions-grade use of the technology and sells it as an "off-the-shelf," commercial-grade item.

Wang said he and his lawyer learned during the discovery phase of his indictment proceedings that, over a year ago, a bank investigator said a lot of money was being sent to Wang from China and that he used his credit card to make purchases, so they thought it was a credit card fraud.

Wang sent the Crossbow Attitude & Heading Reference Systems to his brother, a Chinese businessman in Beijing.
"My brother said, ‘I would never get you in trouble,’" said Wang. "He only asked for things that were also made in China."

The arrest
Wang was taken into custody at his home on March 17, charged with "conspiring to defraud the United States."
"I heard a loud banging at the front door"My wife went downstairs first, and then people rushed into my bedroom," said Wang. "They pointed a gun at me and told me to turn around"I was in my underwear."

Wang said he wasn’t allowed to get dressed for several hours as he recalled the cold and drafty night.
"They didn’t even allow him to put on his pajamas," said Yu Zhao.
When Wang asked the federal agents why he was being arrested, he said, they responded, by saying, "We’ll let you know later."

Eventually agents told Wang the charge, but not much else.
"They just read me the charge, that’s all. They wouldn’t give me any details," Wang said.

During the confusion of the following hours, Wang said he thought of his seven-month-old daughter who was frightened by the commotion and scores of officers coming and going.
"A lot of the special agents were playing with her," said Wang, who was being held in another part of the house at the time.

Several federal agents remained at their home for more than two hours after Wang was taken away, according to Yu Zhao.
Detention or deportation"

Wang was then transported to Montgomery County’s jail.
"The first day, it was a Friday, I was sent to the Montgomery County jail. I was only allowed out one hour a day," said Wang.

Isolated from everyone else, Wang was arrested on St. Patrick’s Day and was not able to see a judge until the following Monday. He was in a small cell with one bed, a chair, no books or personal effects, and the clothes that the jail provided.
"I didn’t even have a pillow. I had a toothbrush and a bar of soap," said Wang.

He was sent to Albany County’s jail next.
"I was sent to Albany County jail. It was a messed up place," said Wang. "You can tell a lot about a jail from the C.O.’s"They looked tough," he said of the jail’s correctional officers.

By the time he was in Albany County’s custody, Wang had made headlines.
"It was not a nice place at Albany County"People pointed fingers at me and said, ‘Hey, that’s the missile guy,’" said Wang.
"You didn’t have any kind of privacy," he said, and then added, "I didn’t have anything to read; I love to read."

One inmate was kind enough to give him a magazine, Wang said.
"I usually read very fast, but I just wanted to keep my mind from thinking about everything that was happening. I read everything, and slowly — even the advertisements," Wang told The Enterprise.
"One Friday, the C.O. called my name and told me I was going home," said Wang. "I was so happy to be going home to see my family and to see my baby"but then an immigration officer came and picked me up."

Wang was then brought over to Albany’s Immigration Customs and Enforcement office and questioned for 20 minutes. At the end of the questioning, Wang was told of his fate.
"You’re in Immigration’s custody now. You’re going to Buffalo," Wang said he was told.
Thinking he would be bonded because six friends, whom Wang described as "very honorable people," put up four properties as collateral for his release, Wang asked Immigration’s officials if he would receive bail.
"I asked if the judge would give me bail and they told me ‘Probably not.’"I was really scared about what was going to happen to me. What would happen to my family"" Wang said.

Wang was then sent to Rensselaer County’s jail, where he said he was once again confined to a single cell for 23 hours a day and did not have a shower during his four days there. Wang then went back to Montgomery County’s jail for a week before heading to his final destination: the Batavia Federal Detention Center, near Buffalo.
"Then one day, they came and said, ‘Come on, let’s go.’ And I was taken to Buffalo," said Wang.
Wang described the vehicle that transported him from Albany as a "UPS-type cargo van," with six people squeezed into the back of the van.
"We sat there in handcuffs; there was vomit on the floor, and it was a four-hour trip," said Wang. "I was praying to get there and get out. It was horrible inside of that van.
"After we got there, we had to wait for another four hours," Wang said. "Finally around eight, one guy said, ‘We’re so hungry! Give us some food,’ and they gave us some food to eat.

With a far-off look in his eyes, Wang then proceeded to describe his experience at the federal detention center to The Enterprise.
"They strip-searched us. It was very humiliating," he said. "After they processed us"I went to a place with 60 people. We had to share eight showers and four toilets"The majority of them were waiting to be deported, but some of them were in the federal criminal system."

Yu Zhao drove to Buffalo to pick up her husband once the magistrate made a ruling that Wang was not a risk to the community; after he was bonded for $250,000, he was placed under home confinement.
"They said in court my wife helped me with the transactions," said Wang. "We were concerned when she came to pick me up"I only had 10 dollars in my pocket, I couldn’t even buy a bus ticket"but she took a risk for me."
"When I first saw Jun, I had never saw him like that before," said Yu Zhao, while fighting back tears. "He didn’t shave, his hair was mess, and he lost a lot of weight."

No place like home

Finally home with his wife and his baby, Wang is now faced with the reality of the situation — no job and possible deportation.
"My mood is up and down. Sometimes I say, ‘Why did this happen"’ Then I look at my baby and say, ‘Wow! At least I have her in my life,’" Wang said. "She’s such a happy baby, but she doesn’t know what her parents are facing.
"When we first bought this house, we were so happy. My wife was pregnant"Everything was going so good for us, and then, out of the blue"I’m facing potential deportation," said Wang. "I would like to believe that the government made an honest mistake; one little mistake ruined my life"The federal prosecutor should be the person who’s embarrassed.
"I think the government was so convinced that we did something illegal"Everything I said had a malicious intent in their mind"They always try to demonize the defendant," said Wang.
"When I was first in jail, the one thing that kept me motivated was to see my baby grow up and be happy," he said, continuing, "I would do anything to make sure she has a good life, to make sure she doesn’t suffer what we did"I want to stay here and have a good life here"I like this location.
"Nobody ever hated me, and I don’t hate anybody"I’m a very laid back person; I keep a low profile. People liked me at work," Wang said. "I’m the kind of person who doesn’t ask for a lot. I think I get that from my mom."

Wanting work

Luibrand said that HRI fired Wang prematurely without waiting to see the validity of the charges. Yu Zhao was suspended with pay from her accounting firm in Albany, and is expected to return to work next week. The Civil Service Employees Association, to which Wang pays monthly dues, has become involved in the matter.
"CSEA filed a grievance on our request," said Luibrand. However, when asked how long it could take for a grievance action to take effect, Luibrand responded, "Many, many months. — an unpredictable amount of months."

During this time, Luibrand said, Wang has no income and he has payments on the Guilderland he bought last year and has a newborn child to care for.
"I was hoping to get my job back"I don’t know what’s going on with my company; I don’t understand," said Wang. "I haven’t gotten any calls from my workplace or my friends"I don’t know if they’re under orders," he said, surmising his co-workers may have been told not to talk with him.

Luibrand told The Enterprise, "As his case moved forward, his employer asked that we not have contact with the employees, so now we are working with CSEA."
"It’s just so unfair! Jun has spent 13 years in his field, making little money and doing a lot of work" said Yu Zhao. "Jun has a Ph.D., there are people with master’s or bachelor’s degrees who make a lot more money than he does. He loves what he does."

Yu Zhao said her husband was looking at getting a promotion and commanding a better salary right before the indictments occurred.
When asked how he reacted once he found out he was being fired during the court proceedings, Wang said, "I was very surprised. I was shocked!"
He went on, "I figured they were under a lot of pressure from the prosecutor"He told me they could lose their grant money. The money’s very tight, so they got scared.
"My boss has got two grants. Not to brag, but my contribution was great; no one can refute that"Now they are trying to protect their money by firing me," said Wang. "I helped them get the money and then they fired me. It’s not fair.
"I’m a good scientist, there’s no doubt about that"They cannot take that away from me," said Wang.

The exceptional scientist working visa, which Wang had, is extremely hard to acquire in the United States, requiring multiple recommendations from around the world.
"That’s a very tough category, you have to have international recognition," said Wang. "I’m the most productive member in my lab. I’m very efficient at what I do"I can still do so much at work. I think I’m at the peak of my creativity at the research lab."
The Wangs still have not received the property seized by the federal government — including their computer, Jun Wang’s driver’s license and passport, and various other items. The couple received a May 2 letter, stating that their property will "eventually" be returned.

When asked, Luibrand told The Enterprise, the case was "not even close to being over with," and that he would help Wang "to the end," piece his life back together here in the United States.
"Life is so fickle, anything can happen," said Wang. "I treasure every day."

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