The government has accused a former United States Navy lieutenant turned National Security Agency contractor of stealing classified documents. The accused agreed to a plea deal. The plea deal involved an admission of guilt for one charge, willful retention of national defense information. In exchange for the plea, the prosecution is expected to dismiss another 19 criminal charges of a similar nature.
What led to the charges? During discussions with the prosecution, the accused stated the alleged wrongdoing was not the result of an intent to commit treason. Instead he explained how he was managing mental illness. As part of this mental illness, he felt a need to take documents home to “be as committed to his job as possible.” This resulted in the accumulation of multiple classified documents both within the accused’s home and personal vehicle.
The deal comes with serious penalties. These penalties include a nine-year prison sentence with an additional three years served under supervised release.
What can government employees learn from this case? The government takes its secrets seriously. Workers are wise to abide by the rules. The government may construe an attempt by an employee to put in extra effort and take a file home to continue work after hours as a criminal act.
Allegations of this nature can lead to an investigation, termination of employment and potential criminal charges. Government employees that find themselves in this situation are wise to act to protect their rights. Contact an attorney experienced in federal labor laws to review your case and better ensure a favorable outcome.