Following the arrest of Allen Ho this spring, FBI agents appeared on the doorsteps of nuclear scientists across the United States. In Murrysville, they met with Charles Beard, a retired Westinghouse Electric Co. software engineer who first connected with Mr. Ho in the 1980s when both men worked for that company. In 2011, Mr. Ho had approached Mr. Beard to consult for his Delaware-based firm Energy Technology International, according to documents in the case. Mr. Beard had just retired and wasn’t sure it was worth it. He quoted an hourly rate so high it was intended to repel the advances, Mr. Beard told the FBI. But Mr. Ho agreed to the money, and so did Mr. Beard. And thus he became part of a group of consultants — retired nuclear specialists, many from Cranberry-based Westinghouse — that Mr. Ho assembled on behalf of the China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN), one of several state-owned nuclear firms in one of the world’s largest commercial nuclear markets. The consulting team was to “provide technology transfer in design, manufacturing, related training and technical support,” Mr. Ho wrote in an e-mail later obtained by the FBI. “They said budget is no issue.” Since mid-April, Mr. Ho, 66, has been in jail in Tennessee awaiting a trial in which he faces a potential life sentence for violating a 60-year statute that has never before been tested in court. He spends 23 hours in a cell, in solitary confinement, according to his attorney.
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