Defense Department Official Sentenced to 36 Months for Espionage, False Statement Charges
James Wilbur Fondren Jr. was sentenced today to 36 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release, for charges involving espionage and making false statements to the FBI.
David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and John Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement.
Fondren, 62, worked at the Pentagon and, from August 2001 through Feb. 11, 2008, was the Deputy Director, Washington Liaison Office, U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM). He held a top secret security clearance, worked in a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) and had a classified and unclassified computer at his cubicle.
On Sept. 25, 2009, Fondren was convicted by a jury of unlawful communication of classified information by a government employee and two counts of making false statements. According to court documents and evidence at trial, Fondren provided certain classified Defense Department documents and other information to Tai Shen Kuo, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Taiwan from approximately November 2004, to Feb. 11, 2008. Fondren was aware that Kuo had maintained a close relationship with an official of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), to whom Kuo introduced Fondren during a trip the two took to the PRC in March 1999. As Kuo well knew, this individual was an official of the PRC government. Fondren and the PRC official exchanged more than 40 e-mail messages between March 1999 and November 2000.
Fondren was found to have provided classified information through Kuo, under the guise of consulting services, using a business that had Kuo as its sole customer. Fondren would incorporate this information into "opinion papers" that he sold to Kuo. He would also provide Kuo with sensitive, but unclassified Defense Department publications.
The jury also found Fondren guilty of falsely representing to the FBI that everything he wrote to Kuo in his opinion papers was based on information from press and media reports and from his experience and that he had not given Kuo a draft copy of an unclassified document on military strategy.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) provided substantial assistance and cooperation throughout the course of the investigation.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Neil Hammerstrom and James P. Gillis from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Ryan Fayhee from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.