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Former Civilian Translator Embedded with Military Units in Afghanistan Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges
SHERMAN, Texas – A 39-year-old McKinney, Texas woman has pleaded guilty to federal violations stemming from her employment as a translator embedded with several U.S. military units in Afghanistan, announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales of the Eastern District of Texas and U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.
Farida Yusufi, a U.S. citizen of Afghan origin, pleaded guilty to eight counts of a nine-count indictment, unsealed in August 2013, today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Amos Mazzant. Specifically, Yusufi pleaded guilty to five counts of making false statements to a federal agency; two counts of altering a military, naval or official pass; and one count of theft of government records. She has been in federal custody since her arrest in August 2013 by special agents with the FBI’s North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).
According to documents filed in court, Yusufi received a final Secret security clearance in August 2008, but it was suspended on Oct. 1, 2009, and was never reinstated. Despite those facts, in an interview conducted by FBI and U.S. Army counterintelligence agents in Afghanistan in September 2011, Yusufi falsely told the federal agents that she possessed a Top Secret security clearance “in process,” which she knew was a false and misleading statement. In that interview, to mislead the agents who were trying to determine whether she was gaining access to classified information at a U.S. base in Afghanistan without authorization, she also falsely told them that she had never been fired from a job. In fact, she had previously been fired as a translator while working overseas for the U.S. military.
On Mar. 22, 2012, Yusufi made false statements to FBI agents about whether she had provided false information on her security clearance application form and whether she had actually been employed by a particular U.S. government contractor. She also made those false statements to mislead the FBI agents as to her actual statements to other federal agents and her employment history.
On Feb. 23, 2012, Yusufi again made a false statement to federal agents by stating that she had not applied for a position as a role player for a U.S. government contractor since her return from Afghanistan in September 2011, when, in fact, she had applied for such a position in June 2011 and inquired again about that application upon her return from Afghanistan earlier in September.
On Jan. 18, 2010, Yusufi falsely made, altered and tampered with an official military or government pass, that is a Letter of Authorization issued by or under the authority of the U.S. government, and on Mar. 13, 2013, Yusufi possessed an altered Letter of Authorization. A Letter of Authorization is the equivalent of a set of military orders for a government contractor, such as a contract linguist being deployed overseas, and it enables access to military transportation and military bases. The Letters of Authorization that Yusufi altered and possessed were never issued to her; rather, the original Letter of Authorization was issued to her former spouse.
On Mar. 13, 2013, the FBI executed a search warrant at Yusufi’s home in McKinney. On her computer, the FBI discovered sensitive U.S. military records that she obtained while embedded with the U.S. military and that she had no authority to possess or retain. She admits that she knew she had no right to possess or keep those records, and that she had converted them to her own use.
Statutorily, Yusufi faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each of the false statement and altering a military, naval or official pass counts, and 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for the one count of theft of government records. However, according to the plea agreement, if acceptable by the Court, the parties have agreed that a sentencing range of 33 to 41 months in federal prison is an appropriate sentencing range. Yusufi also agreed to pay a $50,000 fine. Yusufi acknowledges that she may not withdraw her plea should the Court choose not to follow these sentencing recommendations. A sentencing date was not set.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s North Texas JTTF.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Stover, of the Eastern District of Texas, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Errin Martin and Mark Penley, of the Northern District of Texas, are prosecuting.