OverviewPERSERECEspionage Cases1997-99

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1997 - 1999

1999 - JEAN-PHILIPPE WISPELAERE, 28, while employed by the Australian Defense Intelligence Organization as an analyst, in 1999 downloaded hundreds of sensitive classified US military documents to his computer and removed the files from his office. He was cleared for access to Top Secret US information. These documents, reported to be related to US satellite reconnaissance, were provided to Australia under a defense sharing agreement. On 18 January, six days after his unexpected resignation from the Australian intelligence agency, Wispelaere, posing as a Canadian official, walked into the embassy of Singapore in Bangkok and offered to sell the classified documents. He left a sample classified document and his email address. The US was alerted about the contact and set up a sting operation. At a later meeting at a Bangkok hotel with undercover FBI agents, Wispelaere turned over 713 classified US documents maps and photos for $70,000 and subsequently mailed more than 200 items to a post office box in Virginia set up by the FBI for another $50,000. At one point, Wispelaere told the agent that he was in “dire financial need” and that this “involved females.” He was lured to Virginia to accept another payment, and on 15 May 1999 was arrested at Dulles International Airport upon his arrival from London. He initially pleaded not guilty, but later entered into a plea agreement by which he was required to reveal all of his illegal activities. Sentencing was delayed when Wispelaere was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and for a time he was declared unfit to stand trial. On June 9, 2001, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison after the government announced that he had lived up to the terms of the plea agreement.

Los Angeles Times 18 May 1999, “Internet-savvy Australian Charged in Espionage Case”
Calgary Herald 21 May 1999, “Canadian Spy Was ‘a Bit of a Bumbler’”
Washington Post 9 Jun 2001, “15-year term in Espionage Case: Australian Stole U.S. Documents, Tried to Sell Them”


1998 - ALEJANDRO ALONSO, 39, a member of the “La Red Avispa” (the Red Wasp Network), a Cuban spy ring in south Florida, was arrested with nine other members of the ring on 12 September 12 1998 and charged with conspiracy to commit espionage. [See also Linda Hernandez, Gerardo Hernandez and Joseph Santos.] Alonso was born in Des Moines, Iowa, but returned to Cuba and was recruited there by the Cuban Intelligence Service. In 1994 he began trying to collect information on military installations in south Florida and on the activities of the Cuban-American exile community there. Alonso, a boat pilot, joined an exile group called the Democracy Movement to report on their plans from the inside, and he participated in boat flotillas held to protest Cuba’s Communist government. He pleaded guilty in a plea bargain to being an unregistered agent of a foreign government, and was sentenced on 28 January 2000 in US District Court in Miami to seven years in prison.

Associated Press Sept 19, 1998, “Bail Denied for Accused Cuban Spy”
Miami Herald Jan 29, 2000, “Confessed Cuban Spy Receives Seven Years”


1998 - DAVID SHELDON BOONE, a former Army signals analyst for the National Security Agency, was arrested 10 October 1998, and charged with selling Top Secret documents to agents of the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991. Compromised documents including a 600-page manual describing US reconnaissance programs and a listing of nuclear targets in Russia. Boone was arrested at a suburban Virginia hotel after being lured from his home in Germany to the United States in a FBI sting operation. He had worked for NSA for three years before being reassigned to Augsburg, Germany, in 1988, and retired from the Army in 1991. In October 1988, the same month that he separated from his wife and children, Boone walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington and offered his services. According to an FBI counterintelligence agent’s affidavit, Boone was under “severe financial and personal difficulties” when he began spying. His former wife had garnished his Army sergeant’s pay, leaving him with only $250 a month. According to the Federal complaint, Boone met with his handler about four times a year from late 1988 until June 1990, when his access to classified information was suspended because of “his lack of personal and professional responsibility." He held a Top Secret clearance from 1971 and gained access to SCI information in 1976. He is alleged to have received payments totaling more than $60,000 from the KGB. Boone was indicted on three counts: one for conspiracy to commit espionage and the other two related to his alleged passing of two Top Secret documents to his Soviet handler. On 18 December, Boon pleaded guilty to conspiracy, and on 26 February 1999 he was sentenced to 24 years and four months in prison. Under a plea agreement Boone was also required to forfeit $52,000 and a hand-held scanner he used to copy documents.

Washington Post 6 Nov 1998, “Ex-NSA Indicted for Spying”
Washington Post 9 Nov 1998, “Trial Set for Ex-NSA Analyst”
Washington Post 27 Feb 1999, "Ex-NSA Worker Gets 24 Years for Spying"


1998 - DOUGLAS FREDERICK GROAT, former CIA officer, was arrested on 3 April 1998 and charged with passing sensitive intelligence information to two foreign governments and attempting to extort over $500,000 from the CIA in return for not disclosing additional secrets. Groat had been placed on a three-year paid administrative leave in the spring of 1993 after the agency felt he posed a security risk, reportedly involving a discipline or job performance issue. Apparently Groat first attempted to extort money from the CIA in May 1996 and was fired the following October. During a 16-year career at the CIA, Groat participated in intelligence operations aimed at penetrating the secret codes and communication systems employed by foreign governments. Groat, a cryptographic expert, was reported to have revealed classified information to two undisclosed governments regarding the targeting and compromise of their cryptographic systems in March and April 1997. For Groat, it was “very much a case of pure revenge,” said a Federal official, explaining that the former intelligence officer had long felt slighted and abused by the CIA because he had never been given the assignments he thought he deserved. Groat is reported to have not received any money from the foreign governments for the information passed. The former CIA employee pleaded guilty to one count of attempted extortion 27 July, and was sentenced 27 September to five years’ confinement followed by three years’ probation. According to news reports, the sharp reduction from the original four-count espionage charge and the limited penalties reflected the government's desire to avoid a trial in which damaging classified information might have been disclosed.

Washington Times 4 Apr 1998, “Former CIA Officer Charged With Spying; Pleads Not guilty in Extortion, Codes Case”
Washington Post 28 Jul 1998, “Ex-CIA Operative Pleads Guilty to Blackmail Attempt at Agency”
Washington Post 26 Sep 1998, "Ex-CIA Agent Given 5 Years in Extortion Case; Former Operative Admitted Demanding $1 Million in Return for Not Disclosing Secrets"


1998 - ANTONIO GUERRERO, part of the Cuban Red Wasp Network spy ring in south Florida, was born in Miami where his father, a professional baseball player, was working. [See also Linda Hernandez, Gerardo Hernandes, Joseph Santos, and Alejandro Alonso.] The family returned to Cuba where Antonio grew up and was recruited by the Cuban Intelligence Service. He began spying for Cuba in Panama in 1991, then was sent to the US in 1992 and tasked with collecting visual intelligence against the Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West, Florida. Guerrero, 43, got a job doing maintenance and construction work on the base. He passed coded reports on activities at the naval air station, such as plane counts, base remodeling, or changes of command, which could indicate an impending US invasion of Cuba. He passed his information to the head of the ring, GERARDO HERNANDEZ. Although he and two of his fellow agents in south Florida had no clearances and obtained no classified information, they were successfully prosecuted for conspiracy to commit espionage. On 27 December 2001, Guerrero was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to commit espionage and for acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign government.

Washington Post 15 Sep 1998, “10 Arrested on Charges of Spying for Cuba”
South Florida Sun-Sentinel 31 Dec 2000, “Exile’s Dual Life Begets Federal Spying Charge”
Guardian (UK) 6 Mar 2001, “Carry on Spying”


1998 - GERARDO HERNANDEZ, a captain in the Cuban military intelligence, was also spymaster of an extensive ring of Cuban nationals and Cuban Americans collecting intelligence, attempting to commit espionage and disrupt Cuban exile groups in south Florida from 1992 until 1998. On 12 September 1998 the FBI arrested 10 people associated with the “La Red Avispa,” or the Red Wasp Network ring, including eight men and two women in their various south Florida residences. They were accused of spying on US military installations and anti-Castro exile groups in south Florida and transmitting this information to Cuba. Among the military installations the group attempted to infiltrate were the US Southern Command Headquarters in Miami, MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, and Boca Chica Naval Air Station in Key West. The group’s goals included documenting activities, exercises, and trends at the installations; monitoring anti-Castro groups and disrupting their plans; and developing positions of vantage from which to warn Cuban intelligence of impending military strikes against Cuba. The group had been under investigation by the FBI counterintelligence squad in Miami since 1995.

Three of the 10 arrested were identified as senior agents who communicated directly with Cuban intelligence officials and received their instructions from Cuba. The three senior agents were all Cuban nationals. They were GERARDO HERNANDEZ, 31 (alias Manuel Viramontes), the spymaster; FERNANDO GONZALEZ, 33 (alias Ruben Campa), and RAMON LABANINO, 30 (alias Luis Medina), another Cuban intelligence officer. The remaining seven were mid-level or junior agents who passed their reports to one of these three senior agents. Included were ANTONIO GUERRERO, 39, who observed aircraft landings at the Boca Chica Naval Air Station from his job as a sheet-metal worker there; ALEJANDRO ALONSO, 39, a boat pilot; and RENE GONZALEZ, 42, a skilled aircraft pilot and the only Cuban national among these seven. Both joined the Democracy Movement to report on its activities devoted to harassing the Castro government with demonstrations and threats. Two married couples, all American citizens, also worked in the spy network: NILO and LINDA HERNANDEZ, ages 44 and 41 respectively, and JOSEPH and AMARYLIS SANTOS, both 39. Five defendants, Alonzo, the Hernandez’s, and the Santos’s, accepted a plea bargain and cooperated with the prosecutors, providing information about the others. The other five defendants eventually went to trial, which lasted six months.

The US government’s espionage case also became enmeshed with an incident that happened in February 1996, in which Cuban air force jets shot down two of three Cessna aircraft flying toward Havana. Four pilots, members of the anti-Castro exile group, Brothers to the Rescue, were killed. Several of the Wasp network agents had infiltrated Brothers to the Rescue, including Rene Gonzalez, the pilot. In addition to charges related to information-gathering and the sending of “nonpublic” information to a foreign power, Gerardo Hernandez was charged with contributing to the deaths of the four pilots for passing along to Cuban intelligence information about the group’s planned fly-over. Several other Cubans who were eventually indicted in the incident fled to Cuba before they could be arrested.

The trial of the five Wasp defendants who had not entered into plea bargains resulted in convictions on all counts on 8 June 2001. Three received life sentences in December 2001 for conspiracy to commit espionage, although they did not collect or compromise any classified information. Cuban nationals, Gerardo Hernandez and Ramon Labanino, and Antonio Guerrero, an American citizen, received life in prison. Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, also Cuban nationals, received sentences of 19 years and 10 years, respectively, for conspiracy and for acting as unregistered agents of a foreign power. The five American citizens who pled guilty to one count of acting as unregistered agents of a foreign power received lesser sentences: Alejandro Alonso, Nilo Hernandez, and Linda Hernandez got sentences of seven years’ imprisonment, Joseph Santos received four years, and Amarylis Santos three and a half.

Washington Post 15 Sep 1998, “10 Arrested on Charges of Spying for Cuba”
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel 8 May 1999, “Cuban Spies Linked to Shoot-down”
Miami Herald 16 Aug 1999, “Shadowing of Cubans a Classic Spy Tale”
Guardian (UK) 6 Mar 2001, “Carry on Spying”
Miami Times 15 Mar 2001, “What Spies Beneath”
Associated Press 30 Dec 2001, “Cuban Parliament Declares Five Agents ‘Heroes of Cuba’”


1998 - LINDA HERNANDEZ, and her husband NILO HERNANDEZ, 46, were members of the Wasp Network, a Cuban spy ring in south Florida. Linda was born in New York but returned to Cuba where she grew up and married Nilo. In 1983 the couple returned to the US where he later became an American citizen. In 1992 they were “activated” as spies and ordered to move from New York to Miami. They were arrested on 12 September 1998 along with eight other members of the ring. [See also Gerardo Hernandez and Alejandro Alonso.] Linda was charged with attempting to collect information for the Cuban Intelligence Service by infiltrating a right-wing Cuban exile group called Alpha 66. Nilo counted aircraft at nearby Homestead Air Force Base and reported using a shortwave radio. Although the information they passed to Cuba was in the public domain, in a plea bargain, the pair pled guilty to acting as unregistered agents of a foreign government. Each was sentenced to seven years in prison in US District court in Miami on 23 February 2000.

Miami Herald 8 Feb 1998, “Cuban Couple Pleads Guilty in Spying Case”
Miami Herald 24 Feb 2000, “Confessed Cuban Spies Sentenced to Seven Years”


1998 - JOSEPH SANTOS, 38, an American citizen, and his Cuban wife AMARYLIS SILVERIO SANTOS, 37, were members of the Red Wasp Network, a spy ring operating for Cuba in south Florida from 1992 through 1998. [See also Alejandro Alonso, Linda Hernandez, and Gerardo Hernandez.] The couple was assigned by the Cuban Intelligence Service to get jobs with the US Southern Command in Miami in order to collect and pass along information and observations. They did not manage to get these jobs, although they submitted at least one report to Cuban intelligence based on observations from outside the military base. At the time of their arrest on 12 September 1998, Joseph worked as a maintenance man for a Miami sports stadium and Amarylis kept house and took care of their six-year-old daughter. On 4 February 2000 in US District court in Miami, they pled guilty in a plea bargain to being unregistered agents of a foreign government. Joseph was sentenced to four years and Amarylis to three and a half years in prison.

Independent (UK) 16 Sep 1998, “Cuban Infiltrated US Military Base, Says FBI”
Miami Herald 3 Feb 2000, “Contrite Cuban Spy Couple Sentenced”
Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel 4 Feb 2000, “Couple Guilty of Espionage Get Jail Sentence”


1997 - JAMES MICHAEL CLARK, a private investigator, was arrested 4 October 1997 along with KURT ALLEN STAND and THERESE MARIE SQUILLACOTE, and charged with spying for East Germany. Clark was recruited by his friend Kurt Stand in 1976 when both were members of the Young Workers Liberation League while attending the University of Wisconsin. Media sources state that a 1975 FBI report describing Clark's participation in the youth arm of the Communist party was the basis on which his subsequent application to the CIA for employment was denied. However, in 1986 Clark received a Secret clearance for his work for a private firm doing contract work for the government. And in 1992, the Army renewed his access after hiring him as a civilian analyst. According to news reports, as a defense contractor at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Boulder, Colorado, in the 1970s, Clark had access to classified information on chemical warfare. He was also accused of giving East Germany classified State and Commerce Department documents about the Soviet leadership, the Soviet’s strategic nuclear doctrine, and problems in the military of Soviet bloc countries. He reportedly told an undercover agent that, under the guise of needing help with a research report, he obtained these classified documents—including at least one classified as Top Secret—from two State Department employees. Clark admittedly passed information to his German handlers in the form of microfiche. Law enforcement officials and court documents describe Clark as a radical who fell into spying from 1979 to 1989 as an extension of his Marxist ideology. He received at total of $17,500 from East Germany and spent much of it traveling to meet his handler in Germany, Mexico and Canada. Clark was convicted on 3 June 1998 on a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage and on 4 December was sentenced to 12 years and seven months in prison. This reduced sentence was a result of his testimony at the trial of Stand and Squillacote that aided in their conviction.

Washington Post 7 Oct 1997, “Three Former Campus Leftists Held in VA on Espionage Charges”
Washington Post 4 Jun 1998, “Falls Church Man Pleads Guilty to Passing Secrets to East Germany”
New York Times 5 Dec 1998, "Spy, in Plea Agreement, Is Given 12-Year Sentence"


1997 - PETER H. LEE, a nuclear physicist who worked at key research facilities for more than 30 years, turned himself in to authorities and pleaded guilty on 8 December 1997 to two felony counts, one for passing national defense information and the other for providing false statements to the government. Dr. Lee admitted that in 1985, while working as a research physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, he traveled to the People’s Republic of China. During this visit Lee discussed with a group of approximately 30 Chinese scientists the construction of hohlraums, diagnostic devices used in conjunction with lasers to create microscopic nuclear detonations. Prosecutors stated Lee acknowledged that he knew the information was classified. The second charge against Lee concerned disclosures he failed to make in 1997 while he was working on classified research projects for TRW. Before he traveled to China on vacation, Lee was required to fill out a security form in which he stated he would not be giving lectures on his work. Upon his return, he had to fill out a second form in which he confirmed that he did not give any lectures of a technical nature. However, as Lee later confessed to the FBI, he lied on both forms because he intended to and did, in fact, deliver lectures to Chinese scientists that discussed his work on microwave backscattering from the sea surface. Dr. Lee told the FBI that he disclosed the information because he wanted to help his Chinese counterparts and he wanted to enhance his reputation in China. According to US government sources, Lee did receive compensation for the information he provided to the Chinese in the form of travel and hotel accommodations. The case resulted from an investigation by agents from the FBI's Foreign Counterintelligence Squad. On 26 March 1998, Dr. Lee was sentenced to one year in a community corrections facility, three years’ probation, and ordered to perform 3,000 hours of community service and pay $20,000 in fines.

Los Angeles Times 9 Dec 1997, "Physicist Admits Passing Laser Secrets to Chinese Scientists”
Washington Post 12 Dec 1997, "Taiwan Born Scientist Passes Defense Information"
Counterintelligence News Digest Mar 1998, “US Physicist Pleads Guilty”


1997 - KURT ALAN STAND, a regional labor union representative along with his wife, THERESE MARIE SQUILLACOTE, a former senior staff lawyer in the office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense, and friend JAMES MICHAEL CLARK, a private investigator, were arrested 4 Oct 1997 on charges of spying for East Germany and Russia. Stand reportedly began his spying activities in 1972 after being recruited by East Germany to cultivate other spies in the Washington, DC, area. He was introduced to East German intelligence officers (the Stasi) through his father, Maxmillian Stand, a chemical engineer who fled Nazi Germany in the 1930s. Clark, Squillacote, and Stand attended the University of Wisconsin in the 1970s where they were affiliated with leftist groups, specifically the Progressive Student Forum and the Young Workers Liberation League, the youth arm of the Communist Party USA. Stand recruited Clark in 1976 and Squillacote about the time the couple was married in 1980. Before obtaining a position at the Pentagon, Therese Squillacote was employed by the National Labor Relations Board and, later, the House Armed Services Committee. She sent numerous photographs to her German handlers. Squillacote reportedly told an undercover FBI agent that she turned to spying to support the progressive antiimperialist movement. She first came to the attention of the FBI in 1995 when she offered to be a spy in a letter to a South African government official who was a leader of his country's Communist Party. Stand and Squillacote frequently traveled to Mexico, Germany, and Canada during which time Stand would meet with their East German handlers. When the two Germanys united in 1990, Stand’s controllers tried to recruit him to spy for the Soviet Union and then for the Russian Federation. Although he never gained access to classified material, his role in the operation was to recruit agents and to provide information about the nongovernmental groups with which he worked. Stand allegedly received $24,650 for his recruiting and coordinating efforts. On 23 Oct 1998, he and Squillacote were convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage, attempted espionage, and illegally obtaining national defense documents. On 22 January 1999, a US District Judge sentenced Squillacote to 21 years and 10 months in prison and Stand to a sentence of 17 years and six months.

New York Times 7 Oct 1997, “Three Onetime Radicals Held in Spy Case”
Washington Post 2 Nov 1997, “Cloak and Blabber; A Story of Espionage and Very Loose Lips”
Washington Post 24 Oct 1998, “Jury Rejects Entrapment Defense, Convicts DC Couple of Spying”


1997 - KELLY THERESE WARREN, a former US Army clerk, was arrested 10 June 1997 and named in a three-count indictment alleging her involvement in the passing of sensitive information to Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the mid-80’s, as a part of the CLYDE LEE CONRAD spy ring. Warren was charged with conspiracy to aid a foreign government and gathering or delivering classified national defense information. From 1986 to 1988 she had been assigned as an administrative assistant in the section that handled war plans for the Army’s 8th Infantry Division headquarters in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. In 1987 she was recruited into the Conrad ring by then-coworker RODERICK JAMES RAMSAY. Among documents Warren gave to Conrad to pass to Hungarian and Czech agents were secret US and NATO plans for the defense of Western Europe in the event of a Soviet bloc attack. The indictment said that Warren met with Conrad on base, at a bowling alley and in a church in Bad Kreuznach, to trade cash for secrets. She earned only $7,000 for her efforts with which she claimed to have paid off debts, money being her motive. Federal agents had suspected her involvement for almost 10 years. According to a plea agreement, Warren pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage on 6 November 1998 and on 12 Februrary she was sentenced to 25 years in prison. Warren is the seventh US service member to be charged with taking part in the Conrad spy ring since 1988.

Florida Times-Union 11 Jun 1997, "Former Soldier Arrested; Warner Robins Woman Charged in Espionage Case"
Raleigh News and Observer 29 Jul 1997, "Federal Agents Still Tracking Members of '80s Army Spy Ring"


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