Mohan L. Nirala, 52, of Laurel, Maryland, was sentenced today to 12 months and one day in prison for willful retention of national defense information.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Mary B. McCord, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente for the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
Nirala pleaded guilty on Sept. 16, 2016. According to the statement of facts filed with the plea agreement, Nirala was a full-time government employee and imagery scientist at the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from February 2009 to 2015. On Jan 10, 2014, eight days after his clearances were suspended, FBI agents recovered over 20 classified documents at Nirala’s home during the execution of a federal search warrant. A review of these documents determined that they ranged in classification from Secret to Top Secret. During the search, Nirala falsely stated that he did not bring home any classified documents.
According to the statement of facts, on March 8, 2016, agents arrived at Nirala’s home to execute an arrest warrant. After Nirala failed to answer the door, agents made a forced entry and found Nirala in the basement before taking him into custody. During a sweep of the basement, agents discovered a white duct-taped box underneath the basement stairs. Inside the box were over 500 pages of documents classified at Top Secret and Secret levels.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald L. Walutes of the Eastern District of Virginia and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon L. Van Grack of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case.