Former Navy SEAL Sentenced for Sharing Classified Information
Federal prosecutors in Charlottesville say a former Navy SEAL deserves to be punished for breaking security protocols and sharing secret information with people he knew.
It's a case that stretched from one side of the country to the other, through the Internet. Bruce Schliemann of Virginia Beach, a 50-year-old veteran, was sentenced to three years of supervised release and will have to pay a $10,000 fine after for stealing classified information for his own commercial gain.
In April 2010, Schliemann was working for a Defense Department contractor in San Diego, California. Through that job, he had access to classified material that he downloaded onto a personal thumb drive and put into his own personal computer.
Schliemann removed certain classified markings from the documents and then emailed them to his employer in Orange, Virginia.
“That core conduct - the intentional, unauthorized access of the classified information - his act of removing the markings to hide its classified nature, and then his transmission of that material via the Internet is the specific crime to which he pled guilty today,” said U.S. Attorney Timothy Heaphy.
Schliemann also obstructed justice by getting a contact to wipe his computer clean. He later destroyed the thumb drive and computer, making it difficult for prosecutors to assess how far the information had gone.
People who served with Schliemann testified about his position as a decorated Navy SEAL veteran. Prosecutors say his status makes the situation even worse because he should have known better.
Department of Justice Press Release
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA – A former contractor for the Department of Defense, who pled guilty late last year, was sentenced today in the United States District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Charlottesville on charges related to the removal of classified materials.
Bruce Schliemann, 50, of Virginia Beach, Virginia, previously waived his right to be indicted and pled guilty to a one-count Information charging him with the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents.
Today in District Court, Schliemann was sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.
“Protecting the integrity of classified information is crucial to our national security,” United StatesAttorney Timothy J. Heaphy said today. “Bruce Schliemann was a decorated Navy Seal who knew therules governing the use of national security information. Nonetheless, he disclosed classified material without authorization, and then tried to cover up his crime. We will do all we can to identify breaches of national security like the one committed by Mr. Schliemann and hold the offenders responsible. ”
“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), which is the criminal investigative arm of the Department of Defense (DoD), Office of Inspector General, is committed to working with our law enforcement partners and aggressively protecting America’s war fighters and DoD interests,” said Robert E.Craig, Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office. “This case has proven aparticularly egregious example of a former military member unlawfully removing and retaining classified information, the release of which greatly undermines not only DoD, but also our country’s national security. Let it be clear that no individual, including a highly decorated veteran, has the authority to pick and choose which laws and regulations governing classified information he/she will follow, particularly in furtherance of one’s personal interests.”
“HSI will use all resources at its disposal to prevent sensitive and restricted technology from beingused for nefarious purposes," said HSI Washington Acting Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger. “Today's sentencing underscores the potential global consequences when sensitive information or technically come into the wrong hands and potentially threaten our country’s safety and security."
According to a statement of facts previously filed in court, in 2010, Schliemann, a retired Navy Seal, was working as an employee for a Department of Defense contractor in the Southern District of California in San Diego.
In April 2010, Schliemann knowingly downloaded classified information from a classified computer in a secure facility to a personal thumb drive. The defendant then removed the thumb drive from the secure facility and transferred those classified files to the laptop computer that had been issued to him by his employer. After removing the classified markings, Schliemann then emailed the classified material to employees of another defense contractor located in the Western District of Virginia.
The employees of this second defense contractor subsequently then transmitted the classified information to a number of unauthorized and un-cleared persons in several locations.
During September 2010, Schliemann found out he was being investigated for his actions and consulted with a computer-savvy friend for assistance in “wiping” the hard drive of his laptop computer. After wiping the hard drive, Schliemann physically destroyed the hard drive and thumb drive that held the classified information. In addition, when approached by agents in September 2010, Schliemann lied about a number offacts, including telling the agents he obtained the classified information by “digging around on the internet.”
The defendant also specifically denied removing the classified information from the secure facility in San Diego.The investigation of the case was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Pfleger is prosecuting the case for the United States.
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