High Ranking Pentagon Official Charged with Espionage
By: Jim Kouri, CPP
The National Association of Chiefs of Police obtained the following information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s liaison office.
A Defense Department official has been charged with conspiracy to communicate classified information to an agent of a foreign government, according to a report obtained from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in the Eastern District of Virginia alleges that, from approximately November 2004 to February 11, 2008, James Wilbur Fondren, Jr., while serving as an employee of the Defense Department, unlawfully and knowingly conspired with others to communicate classified information to another person who he had reason to believe was an agent or representative of a foreign government.
Fondren, 62, worked at the Pentagon and is the Deputy Director, Washington Liaison Office, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). He has been on administrative leave with pay since mid-February 2008 and has not performed any duties in or for PACOM since that time. Wednesday morning, he turned himself in to federal agents. If convicted, he faces a maximum five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
â€œTodayâ€™s case is the result of an outstanding long-term counterespionage effort by many agents, analysts and prosecutors that has thus far yielded three convictions,â€ said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
â€œThe conduct alleged in this complaint should serve as a warning to others in government who would compromise classified information and betray the trust placed in them by the American people,â€ said Kris in a press statement.
According to an affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, Fondren retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force in May 1996. In approximately February 1998, he began providing consulting services from his Virginia home. Fondrenâ€™s sole client for his business was a friend by the name of Tai Shen Kuo. Kuo was a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan who lived primarily in Louisiana and maintained business interests in the United States and the Peopleâ€™s Republic of China (PRC). Kuo also maintained an office in the PRC.
In August 2001, Fondren became a civilian employee at PACOM at the Pentagon, where he was again granted a security clearance by the government. He held a Top Secret security clearance, worked in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, and had a classified and unclassified computer at his cubicle. Even after he began working at PACOM in 2001, Fondren continued to provide consulting services for Kuo.
Unbeknownst to Fondren, Kuo worked under the direction of a PRC government official. This PRC official provided Kuo with detailed instructions to collect certain documents and information from Fondren and other U.S. government officials, including Gregg William Bergersen, a former Weapons Policy Analyst at the Arlington, Virginia-based Defense Security Cooperation Agency in the Defense Department. The PRC official paid Kuo approximately $50,000 for completing those tasks.
Kuo introduced the PRC official to Fondren in approximately March 1999, describing him to Fondren as a political researcher and consultant to the PRC government. Fondren maintained periodic e-mail correspondence with the PRC official until at least March 2001. While Fondren was aware of Kuoâ€™s relationship with the PRC official, he was not aware of the PRC officialâ€™s precise status with the PRC government nor of his coded requests to Kuo to obtain information from Fondren.
According to the affidavit, the PRC official instructed Kuo to mislead Fondren into believing that he was providing information to Kuo for Taiwan military officials. Nevertheless, Fondren was aware that Kuo was providing Fondrenâ€™s information to an agent of a foreign government, the affidavit alleges.
According to the affidavit, between November 2004 and February 11, 2008, Fondren provided Kuo with certain Defense Department documents and other information, some of which Fondren obtained from classified online systems available to him by virtue of his employment at the Pentagon.
Fondren incorporated Defense Department information, including classified information, into â€œopinion papersâ€ that he sold to Kuo for between $350 and $800 apiece through Fondrenâ€™s home-based consulting business. Eight of the â€œpapersâ€ Fondren sold to Kuo contained classified information. Fondren also provided Kuo with sensitive, but unclassified Defense Department publications.
According to the affidavit, Fondren allegedly provided Kuo with a variety of sensitive data, including classified information from a State Department cable, classified information about a PRC military officialâ€™s U.S. visit, classified information about a joint U.S.-PRC naval exercise, and classified information regarding U.S.-PRC military meetings. In one instance, Fondren provided Kuo with a draft Defense Department report on the PRC military and stated to Kuo: â€œThis is the report I didnâ€™t want you to talk about over the phoneâ€¦.Let people find out I did that, it will cost me my job.â€
On February 11, 2008, Kuo and former Defense Department employee, Gregg William Bergersen, were arrested on espionage charges. On the day of his arrest, Kuo was staying as a guest in Fondrenâ€™s Virginia home and had among his possessions a draft, unclassified copy of a Defense Department document entitled â€œThe National Military Strategy of the United States of America 2008.â€ Fondren was interviewed by the FBI and later admitted that he gave the draft National Military Strategy report to Kuo.
On March 31, 2008, Bergersen pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to disclose U.S. national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it. Bergersen admitted that, between March 2007 and February 2008, he provided national defense information to Kuo, much of it pertaining to U.S. military sales to Taiwan and classified as Secret. Bergersen was later sentenced to 57 months in prison.
On May 13, 2008, Kuo pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to deliver national defense information to a foreign government, namely the PRC. Kuo admitted that he had cultivated a friendship with Bergersen, bestowing on him gifts, cash payments, dinners, and money for gambling trips to Las Vegas. Kuo admitted that he had obtained national defense information from Bergersen and that he had sent it on to the PRC government official. Kuo was later sentenced to 188 months in prison.
On May 28, 2008, Yu Xin Kang, an accomplice of Kuo from New Orleans who was arrested on the same day as Kuo and Bergersen, pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia to aiding and abetting an unregistered agent of the PRC. Kang admitted that she assisted Kuo by periodically serving as a conduit for the delivery of information from Kuo to the PRC government official. Kang was later sentenced to 18 months in prison.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) provided substantial assistance and cooperation throughout the course of the investigation.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he’s a staff writer for the New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he’s the former blog editor for the House Conservatives Fund’s weblog. Recently, the editors at Examiner.com appointed him as their Law Enforcement Examiner. Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty.
He’s former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed “Crack City” by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He’s also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He’s a news writer for NewswithViews.com and PHXnews.com. He’s also a columnist for AmericanDailyReview.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he’s syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. He’s appeared as on-air commentator for over 300 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. If you wish to receive Kouri’s emailed law enforcement and intelligence reports, write to him at COPmagazine@aol.com. Simply write “Free Subscription” on the subject line.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a columnist for The Examiner (examiner.com) and New Media Alliance (thenma.org). In addition, he's a blogger for the Cheyenne, Wyoming Fox News Radio affiliate KGAB (www.kgab.com). Kouri also serves as political advisor for Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's a news writer and columnist for AmericanDaily.Com, MensNewsDaily.Com, MichNews.Com, and he's syndicated by AXcessNews.Com. Kouri appears regularly as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Fox News Channel, Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, etc. To subscribe to Kouri's newsletter write to COPmagazine@aol.com and write "Subscription" on the subject line.