A Chinese businessman living in Wellesley with his family is in federal custody after authorities charged that he falsified documents in order to hide the true destination of marine acoustical equipment that allegedly ended up at a research college linked to the Chinese navy.

Shuren Qin, 41, was temporarily detained by the US Marshals Service following an initial appearance hearing in US District Court in Boston on Tuesday. He was arrested June 21 at his home in Wellesley. Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler is deciding whether to grant a defense request that Qin be freed on bail while the case is pending, according to court records.


Qin pleaded not guilty to one count of visa fraud, one count of conspiring to commit violation of export regulations, and visa fraud charges, according to records.

According to US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office, federal investigators allege that Qin has used his China-based businesses as a front to funnel marine equipment that can be used for military purposes to the Northwestern Polytechnical University, which is described as a research arm of the Chinese navy.

Qin allegedly falsely claimed that the equipment — 78 hydrophones worth more than $100,000 — was intended for a Chinese university and filed falsified documents to bypass federal controls, authorities allege. Hydrophones can be used to detect and monitor sound underwater and have military applications, according to prosecutors.

He also is accused of violating immigration laws for allegedly making false statements in visa applications.

But defense attorneys, in court papers, said Qin is a marine biologist, a devoted father, and a good neighbor who is facing charges based on a flawed investigation where authorities tried — and failed — to use an undercover informant to lure Qin into committing crimes.

The defense also noted that several relatives of Qin live in New England and are American citizens.


Qin “brought his family to the U.S. to provide the best educational opportunities for his children. Family is what is most important to defendant,’’ defense attorneys wrote, adding that Qin and his family are legal permanent residents of the United States.

Bowler did not indicate when she would decide whether Qin will be held in custody until his trial.

John R. Ellement can be reached at ellement@globe.com.