Months later Peng was watched picking up another book dropped at the same hotel that also held a secrets-loaded memory card.
He then flew to Beijing where, according to investigators, he contacted MSS agents and handed over the card.
The FBI watched on several other occasions between 2016 and 2018 when Peng either picked up the stolen US secrets or left money for the double agent in hotels in both the San Francisco area and Columbus, Georgia, at the direction of MSS agents.
Peng first came to the United States in 2001 on a business visa and stayed legally as a non-immigrant worker.
He married and in 2006 became a permanent resident, and six years after that became a full citizen.
He had a registered business, US Tour and Travel, which served visitors from China planning to study in the United States.
“This case exposed one of the ways that Chinese intelligence officers work to collect classified information from the United States without having to step foot in this country,’ said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.
Peng “is now being held accountable for his criminal actions and his betrayal of his oath of citizenship,” Demers said in a statement.