A private eye was convicted of acting as an illegal Chinese government agent by a federal grand jury in Brooklyn, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday.
Michael McMahon, 55, a retired New York Police Department sergeant turned private eye, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking and faces up to 20 years in prison, according to the DOJ press release. Between approximately 2016 and 2019, McMahon “knowingly acted at the direction” of the Chinese government to surveil, harass, stalk and coerce individuals in the U.S. to return to China, the DOJ said.
“It is particularly troubling that defendant Michael McMahon, a former sergeant in the New York City Police Department, engaged in surveillance, harassment and stalking on behalf of a foreign power for money,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said, according to the press release. “We will remain steadfast in exposing and undermining efforts by the Chinese government to reach across our border and perpetrate transnational repression schemes targeting victims in the United States in violation of our laws.”
The federal grand jury also convicted Zhu Yong, 66, and Zheng Congying, 27, of conspiracy to commit interstate stalking and interstate stalking, the press release states.
Around 2015, Interpol issued a “red notice” for two individuals wanted on corruption-related charges by the Chinese government, according to the DOJ.
In service to the Chinese government, Zhu hired McMahon, who used law enforcement and government databases to obtain information on an individual, his wife and daughter, the DOJ said. McMahon then reported the information he obtained from these databases back to Zhu and several others, including Chinese law enforcement, according to the DOJ.
McMahon also surveilled the home of the target’s relative in New Jersey and reported his findings to Zhu and Chinese officials, according to the DOJ press release. In 2017, McMahon emailed himself a Chinese state-run media article concerning Interpol’s hunt for Chinese fugitives, which contained photographs of the individuals he’d been hired to investigate, the DOJ press release states.
At the same time, Zheng also stalked the same target and left a threatening note at their residence, according to the DOJ.
The DOJ said that the stalking activities were a part of Operation Fox Hunt, a Ministry of Public Security initiative that uses “unsanctioned, unilateral and illegal practices, including coercion, extortion and intimidation” to “forcibly repatriate” alleged Chinese criminals living overseas, according to a 2020 DOJ complaint.
However, McMahon’s wife, actress Martha Byrne, told the Daily Caller News Foundation by phone that her husband will appeal the verdict.
“What happened in that courtroom was a travesty.” Byrne told the DCNF. “My husband committed no crime. We will appeal, and the facts will disturb every citizen of this country.”
“Because [the FBI] failed to do their job, they zeroed-in on an innocent man, my husband, to create a story for the jury,” said Byrne.
“They knew since 2017 my husband had been targeted by Chinese agents and failed to warn him and our family,” Byrne said. “If this is how we treat our heroes in this country, people who sacrifice their lives for the betterment of others, our country is really in desperate shape for help.”
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