WASHINGTON - A State Department employee pleaded guilty today to lying to State Department officials in connection with an investigation into her alleged illegal access of hundreds of confidential passport application files, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division. Brooke E. Reyna, 28, of Barrington, N.H., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph N. Laplante in U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire to making false statements.
According to information contained in plea documents, from May 2004 until the present, Reyna worked in various capacities at the National Passport Center in Portsmouth, N.H., including most recently as a passport specialist. Reyna admitted she had access to official State Department computer databases in the regular course of her employment, including the Passport Information Electronic Records System (PIERS), which contains, among other data, all imaged passport applications dating back to 1994. The imaged passport applications on PIERS contain, among other things, a photograph of the passport applicant as well as certain personal information including the applicant’s full name, date and place of birth, current address, telephone numbers, parent information, spouse’s name and emergency contact information. These confidential files are protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by State Department employees is strictly limited to official government duties.
In pleading guilty, Reyna admitted that between May 2004 and February 2008, she logged onto the PIERS database and viewed the passport applications of more than 500 celebrities, actors, reality television contestants, television personalities, musicians, models, athletes, and members of these individuals’ families, including their children, and other individuals identified in the press. Reyna admitted that she had no official government reason to access and view these passport applications, but that her sole purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle curiosity. She also admitted that, upon being sent an e-mail from State Department officials investigating her illegal use of PIERS and being confronted with numerous occasions on which she had viewed the passport applications of celebrities, she lied when she responded that she did not recall any of the occasions.
To date, 10 current or former State Department employees or contractors, including Reyna, have pleaded guilty in this continuing investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Timothy J. Kelly of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by the State Department Office of Inspector General.