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Navy 1989 - 2008

2006 - MATTHEW M. DIAZ, a staff attorney with the US Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, was charged in August 2006 with the unauthorized disclosure of the names of the 551 Guantanamo Bay detainees while stationed there as a Navy lawyer. After some two weeks of indecision, he had mailed—between December 2004 and March 2005—to a civil rights attorney in New York the classified names, months before the Department of Defense was eventually forced to release the same names as a result of Freedom of Information requests. The civil rights attorney in New York turned over the file to the FBI whose agents tracked down Diaz and arrested him on charges of five felony counts, including the disclosure of classified information that could aid American foreign enemies. The Supreme Court had upheld the Guantanamo prisoners’ rights to challenge their detention in habeas corpus proceedings, but six months later the government was still challenging the court’s order, insisting the prisoners had no legal rights and certainly no right to counsel. Pentagon officials said they were keeping prisoners’ names secret for the prisoners’ own protection, but this made it difficult for potential defense attorneys to file petitions on their behalf. Tried by military court-martial in May 2007, Diaz was convicted of violating orders by passing classified information that could be used to harm the US to someone outside the government. He was sentenced on 17 May to six months’ confinement and was later stripped of his license to practice military law.

Jurist Legal News & Research 30 Oct 2006, “Navy Postpones Hearing for Gitmo Military Lawyer Accused of Leaking Detainee Names”
New York Times 21 Oct 2007, “Naming Names at Gitmo”


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”


1993 - YEN MEN KAO, a Chinese national, residing in Charlotte, North Carolina, was arrested on 3 December 1993, after a six-year investigation into a spy ring that sought secrets on advanced naval weapons and technology. According to an official statement, Kao “and several other Chinese nationals” conspired to illegally procure and export classified and embargoed high-technology military items. Kao was also charged with violating US immigration laws. Targeted for illegal export were the Navy's MK 48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) Torpedo, two F 404-400 General Electric jet engines used to power the Navy's F/A-18 Hornet fighter, and fire-control radar for the F-16 Falcon jet. Although these systems were not delivered to China, Kao was able to transfer embargoed oscillators used in satellites for which Kao paid an FBI informant $24,000 as part of a sting operation. On 22 December, an immigration judge ordered Yen Men Kao's deportation to Hong Kong for overstaying his visa and for “committing acts of espionage against the United States.” A decision was made not to prosecute to avoid offending the Chinese government and to protect counterintelligence sources and methods that might have been disclosed in court. Kao, who reportedly owned two Chinese restaurants in Charlotte, had been under FBI surveillance for several years. During this time he met and received instructions from Chinese intelligence agents who offered him $2 million to obtain US weapons technology. According to one Federal official, Kao had a gambling problem and lost money supplied by his Chinese handlers. Fearing reprisal from the Chinese as well as the US, he requested deportation to Hong Kong rather than mainland China. Kao left behind his wife, a naturalized US citizen, and two children.

Los Angeles Times 5 Dec 1993, “FBI Arrests Chinese National in Spy Ring Investigation”
Washington Times 22 Dec 1993, “Spy Sting Gets Chinese Man Deported”


1996 - ROBERT CHAEGUN KIM, a Navy civilian computer specialist, working at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Suitland, Maryland, was charged on 25 September 1996 with passing classified information to a foreign country. He was arrested outside a diplomatic reception at Ft. Myer, Virginia, on 24 September as he stood beside Capt. Baek Dong-Il, a Korean Embassy naval attaché and the alleged recipient of the classified materials. Kim, a native of Korea, became a US citizen in 1974 and had lived in the United States for 30 years. He had access to classified information since 1979. According to investigators, over a five-month period, he passed dozens of classified documents (including some that were Top Secret) out of loyalty to his country of birth. An FBI affidavit states that Kim searched naval computer systems, made copies of sensitive classified intelligence reports, removed classified markings, printed them off, and mailed or passed them in manila envelopes to Baek. The documents included military assessments about North Korea and China and US intelligence assessments of South Korean government officials. In his official capacity, Kim operated a computer program that tracked global shipping movements. However, he had access to highly classified documents from other intelligence agencies. Kim came under surveillance by the Naval Investigative Service when it learned of his contact with Baek. A court-approved search of Kim’s office produced a list of classified documents he had illegally passed to the naval attaché. More than 40 documents sent to Baek were intercepted in the mail. Capt. Baek Dong-Il, who enjoyed diplomatic immunity, was subsequently recalled by his government. While there is no evidence that Kim received any payment for his illegal activities, according to one news source, he had requested assistance from the South Koreans in his efforts to find employment with a South Korean intelligence or customs agency after his retirement from his US Navy job. It is also reported that Kim had accumulated a credit card debt of approximately $100,000. On 7 May 1997, Kim pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit espionage. On 11 July he was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Washington Post 26 Sep 1996, “Navy Worker Is Accused Of Passing Secret; Papers Allegedly Went To S. Korean Officer”
Washington Post 2 Oct 1996, “Kim Allegedly Sought Job With S. Korea”
Los Angeles Times 8 May 1997, “Ex-Analyst Admits Spying For S. Korea In Plea Bargain”


1989 - DONALD WAYNE KING, Navy Airman and RONALD DEAN GRAF, Navy Airman Apprentice, both assigned to the Naval Air Station in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and larceny of government property following their apprehension by special agents of the Naval Investigative Service. The pair were apprehended by the NIS at a motel in New Orleans after they delivered $150,000 worth of sensitive and classified aircraft parts and technical manuals to an undercover NIS agent they believed was a foreign government representative. The stolen government property and manuals (about 30 items in total) dealt with technology pertaining to the Navy’s P-3 anti-submarine aircraft. The investigation was initiated in January 1989, after an informant notified the New Orleans NIS office that King and Graf were trying to sell aircraft parts they had stolen from the Naval Station at Belle Chasse. The airmen were also charged with the sale of cocaine. King was sentenced to 10 years, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and a dishonorable discharge. Graft was sentenced to five years, reduction in rank to E-1, forfeiture of all pay and a dishonorable discharge. Their motivation for espionage is not known; however, Graf is quoted as claiming that he did it to pay off debts amounting to $1,000.

New Orleans Times-Picayune 5 Mar 1989, “2 Navy Clerks Accused of Spying”
New Orleans Times-Picayune 7 Jul 1989, “Jail Terms Given in Spy Case”
Case summary provided by Albert E. DiFerderico, US Naval Criminal Investigative Service


1989 - CRAIG DEE KUNKLE, former Chief Petty Officer who specialized in antisubmarine warfare, was arrested on 10 January 1989 as he attempted to sell classified information for $5,000 to FBI agents posing as Soviet diplomats. The arrest took place at a Williamsburg, Virginia, motel. On 9 December Kunkle mailed a packet of diagrams, photographs and information related to antisubmarine warfare tactics to an Alexandria, Virginia, post office box he believed to be a Soviet drop point. The material was collected by Federal agents who had been in communication with Kunkle on six previous occasions. An investigation by the Naval Investigative Service and FBI began in early December 1988 when Kunkle's attempt to contact the Soviet Embassy in Washington was intercepted. Kunkle had served for 12 years in the Navy in antisubmarine squadrons in the Atlantic and Pacific fleets and was discharged in 1985 under less than honorable conditions, reportedly for multiple incidents including indecent exposure. Kunkle also had a history of alcohol and drug abuse in addition to marital and financial problems. During his period of active duty, he held a Secret clearance. The former Chief Petty Officer had since been employed as a security guard at a local hospital. At the time of arrest Kunkle stated that he offered to sell classified information because he was short of cash and angry with the Navy. Kunkle was indicted on one count of attempted espionage and ordered held without bond. He pleaded not guilty to the charge. On 4 May 1989 Kunkle changed his plea to guilty because, he said, he did not want to subject his family to a trial. He had faced a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. The judge imposed a 12-year sentence (agreed upon by prosecutors and Kunkle's attorneys) and, noting Kunkle's money problems, fined him $550. He was not eligible for parole and was placed on three years’ probation in addition to the sentence.

New York Times 11 Jan 1989, “Former Navy Man Is Charged As a Spy”
New York Times 19 Jan 1989, “Ex-Navyman Denies Trying to Sell Secrets”


1996 - KURT G. LESSENTHIEN, a Navy petty officer, arrested in Orlando, Florida, on 3 April 1996, was charged with attempted espionage after offering information about nuclear submarine technology to a Russian government representative. Lessenthien was subsequently contacted by undercover agents of the FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service posing as Russian agents. At the time Lessenthien was an instructor at the Navy Nuclear Power School in Orlando and was very knowledgeable about the design and operation of submarine motors. It was reported that the petty officer, in a phone call to the Russian Embassy, offered Top Secret information about the movement of US submarines in exchange for thousands of dollars. According to one media source, Lessenthien accumulated nearly $25,000 in credit card debt on a “relentless pursuit of women” that he intended to marry. A Navy psychiatrist testified that he suffered personality flaws that drove him to ruin an excellent military record. However, a Navy prosecutor stated that Lessenthien decided to become a spy for money and excitement, not love, and that the petty officer had been storing classified materials since 1991. On 28 October, Lessenthien was sentenced by a military court to life imprisonment, but will serve 27 years under a plea agreement. He was also given a dishonorable discharge and ordered to forfeit all pay and benefits.

Washington Post 4 Apr 1996, “Petty Officer Arrested on Spy Charges”
Orlando Sentinel 24 Apr 1996, “Orlando Sailor in Spy Arrest.”
Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk) 29 Oct 1996, “Lessenthien Gets 27 Years in Espionage Case”


1989 - CHARLES EDWARD SCHOOF, 20, and JOHN JOSEPH HAEGER, 19, both Navy Petty Officers 3rd Class, were arrested aboard ship on 1 December 1989 on charges they conspired to commit espionage. The two sailors were stationed aboard the tank landing ship USS Fairfax County assigned to the Norfolk area. Both were operations specialists, trained in radar communications, electronic countermeasures, and navigational plotting. Although Schoof was reported to be the instigator of this scheme to make money, it was Haeger who had the combination to the document safe. Schoof called the Soviet Embassy in Washington, DC, to ask if someone would come down to pick up the classified material, but Norfolk is beyond the embassy's allowed travel radius. He then visited several bars looking for a ride to the embassy. A shipmate reported Schoof's activities to the ship's commanding officer. It is believed that no information was passed to the Soviets and that all documents were retrieved. On 24 April 1990, Schoof was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, stripped of all rank, forfeited all pay and allowances, and received a dishonorable discharge. Haeger was sentenced to 19 years, also forfeited pay and allowances and received a dishonorable discharge. Under a 1987 regulation that revised parole guidelines, the two were expected to serve virtually all of their sentences.

Northern Virginia Sun 11 Dec 1989, “Two Radar Operators from Landing Ship Charged in Spying Conspiracy”
Free Lance-Star 26 Apr 1990, “Navy Men Get Prison Terms for Attempted Espionage”


1995 - MICHAEL STEPHEN SCHWARTZ, US Navy Lieutenant Commander, was charged with passing Department of Defense classified documents and computer diskettes to Saudi naval officers between November 1992 and September 1994 while assigned to a US military training mission in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Schwartz, a naval surface warfare officer who served in the Gulf War, was charged with four counts of espionage on 23 May 1995. He is also charged with five counts of violating Federal regulations for allegedly removing classified material to his residence. The charges resulted from a Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigation which began in September 1994. The documents allegedly included classified messages to foreign countries, military intelligence digests, intelligence advisories, and tactical intelligence summaries classified up to the Secret (Noforn) level. There is no indication that Schwartz received any money for the materials; according to a media report, Schwartz was attempting to be helpful to the Saudis because of US-Saudi cooperation during the Gulf War. On 14 October, Schwartz agreed to a plea bargain that allowed him to avoid a court-martial and possible imprisonment. According to the agreement, in November 1995, Schwartz received an "other than honorable" discharge and lost all retirement benefits and other military privileges.

Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk VA) 25 May 1995, "Officer Spied for Saudis, Navy Says"
Washington Jewish Week 1 Jun 1995, "Navy Officer Arrested on Charges of Espionage"
Washington Post 13 Sep 1995, "Norfolk Naval Officer Faces Court-Martial in Espionage Case"
Virginian-Pilot 14 Oct 1995, "Navy Officer Accused of Spying Gives U Retirement Benefits"


2000 - TIMOTHY STEVEN SMITH, 37, was a civilian serving as an ordinary seaman on the USS Kilauea, an ammunition and supply vessel attached to the Pacific Fleet. On 1 April 2000, while the ship was moored at the Bremerton Naval Station in Bremerton, Washington, Smith was surprised by an officer when removing computer disks from a desk drawer. After a scuffle, Smith was subdued and 17 disks were retrieved from his clothing. A search of his quarters found five stolen documents marked Confidential, including one describing the transfer of ammunition and handling of torpedoes on US Navy vessels. Charged initially in US District Court in Tacoma, Washington, with two counts of espionage and two counts of theft and resisting arrest, investigation showed that Smith needed mental treatment and had a severe alcohol problem. He told FBI agents that he “wanted to get back at the crew” for their mistreatment of him and that, in order to get revenge, he had tried to steal “valuable classified materials” because “if I got something valuable, then I could turn my life around.” To sell his cache, he thought he might “go online and solicit buyers from terrorist groups.” Smith pleaded guilty after prosecutors dropped espionage charges. In a plea agreement reached in August 2000, he pled guilty to one count of stealing government property and one count of assaulting an officer. He was sentenced in December 2000 to 260 days’ confinement (to include time served) and was released on 22 December 2000.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer 14 Apr 2000, “Seaman Admits Stealing Defense Secrets, FBI Says”
National Counterintelligence Executive News and Developments, Vol. 1, March 2001


2006 - ARIEL JONATHAN WEINMANN, 22 at the time of his sentencing, joined the Navy in 2003, having recently graduated from high school in Salem, Oregon. That same year he had met a girl with whom he fell in love. However, her anti-war parents did not approve of her dating a sailor. In the Navy he became a fire control technician, which involved operating and maintaining submarine weapons systems. Weinmann deployed to the submarine, USS Albuquerque. He quickly became unhappy with life on the sub, describing it as “morally corrupt.” After his tour of duty he returned home to be informed by his girlfriend that her parents did not approve of the relationship and that she was being sent to college in Switzerland. The next day he told her that if he did not hear from her by his October birthday, he would move on with his life. Following her departure, Weinmann moved to Austria to be near her. Before he left for Austria, he downloaded classified information from the ship’s database that he hoped would gain him asylum in Austria. These documents included biographical information on 29 prominent Austrians that the US government had compiled and also technical manuals on the Tomahawk cruise missile system. With his $7,000 savings, he arrived in Vienna at the beginning of July 2005. The October deadline passed with no word from the girlfriend, and that same month he entered the Russian Embassy in Vienna, handing the official a binder full of classified documents on the Tomahawk system. He never heard back from the official. When he realized that he had given away his only leverage, Weinmann decided to go to Russia to seek asylum there. However, that meant returning to the US first. On 26 March 2006, he flew from Mexico City to Dallas Fort Worth where he was arrested by US Customs agents because his name appeared on a deserter watch list. However, apparently he had not given away all his classified documents; some were found in his backpack, which led to the espionage charges. Weinmann pleaded guilty at court-martial to espionage, desertion, theft, and destruction of military property. He was sentenced 10 December 2006 to 25 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, a reduction in rank, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. A plea agreement limited his prison sentence to 12 years and he will be eligible for parole after four.

Virginian-Pilot 10 Dec 2006, “Why a Patriotic Teen Joined the Navy and Then Turned to Espionage”
StatesmanJournal.com (Salem, OR) 11 Dec 2006, “Jilted Love, Not Political Intrigue, Drove a Salem Man to Espionage”


1989 - JAMES R. WILMOTH, US Navy airman recruit, was a food service worker aboard the carrier USS Midway. He was arrested by Naval Investigative Service agents in Yokosuka in July 1989 for attempting to sell classified information to a Soviet agent in Japan, where the Midway is based. He was tried and convicted at a general military court-martial 24 September 1989. In addition to attempted espionage, Wilmoth was convicted of failure to report a contact with a citizen of the Soviet Union, conspiracy to unlawfully transfer classified material, and possession, use and distribution of hashish. He was sentenced to 35 years at hard labor; however, since he cooperated in the investigation, his sentence was reduced to 15 years. He also received a dishonorable discharge, and was ordered to forfeit all his pay. He had been in the Navy for over two years and had a history of disciplinary problems including unauthorized leave of absence. Wilmoth did not have a security clearance. Classified information was procured by Petty Officer Third Class RUSSELL PAUL BROWN also stationed aboard the Midway. Brown held a Secret security clearance and took classified documents obtained from the burn bag in the electronic warfare center of the Midway. He passed the documents to Wilmoth, who planned to exchange the documents for cash in an arrangement with a KGB operative in Japan. Brown was convicted in October 1989 of conspiracy to commit espionage and lying to Navy investigators. A military judge sentenced him to 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge, reduction in rank from E-3 to E-1, and forfeiture of all pay and allowances. Motivation for the attempted sale to the Soviets was money.

Los Angeles Times 5 Oct 1989, “Sailor Sentenced to 35 Years After Attempted Espionage”
Washington Times 5 Oct 1989, “Navy Convicts Spy, Stalks Another”
Washington Times 25 Oct 1989, “2nd Midway Sailor Gets Jail Term for Spying”


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