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Press Release

Naval Commander Sentenced for Distributing Child Sexual Abuse Material and Retaining Classified National Defense Information

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Gregory Edward McLean, 40, of Jacksonville, Florida, was sentenced today to 160 months for distributing child sexual abuse material and 120 months for unlawfully retaining classified national defense information. The sentences will be served concurrently.

According to court documents, state law enforcement in Rhode Island received a cyber tipline report that a user of a particular messaging application had shared videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children. The investigation identified the user as McLean, who was at that time an active-duty officer in the U.S. Navy, with the rank of Lieutenant Commander and serving as the executive officer of a ship stationed aboard a Naval Station Mayport in Florida. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) continued the investigation and identified additional instances where McLean had distributed child sexual abuse material. On Nov. 4, 2021, agents executed a federal search warrant at McLean’s residence, during which they seized numerous electronic devices and storage media. A forensic review revealed that several of these items contained files depicting the sexual abuse of minors. 

The forensic review also identified a flash drive which had been recovered from McLean’s kitchen counter that contained approximately 150 documents containing national defense information classified at the secret level and 50 documents containing national defense information classified at the confidential level. An investigation by NCIS and the FBI revealed that throughout his service as a naval officer, McLean had access to classified information and held a top-secret security clearance. McLean had entered into various agreements with the United States regarding the protection and proper handling of classified information and was aware that his home was not an authorized location to store classified national defense information. In particular, court documents identify two documents McLean unlawfully retained which contained national defense information related to foreign governments and their combat aircraft and naval capabilities. Disclosure of this information could reasonably be expected to cause damage and, in some instances, serious damage to the national security of the United States.  

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch and Special Agent in Charge Barbara Jackson of the NCIS Southeast Field Office made the announcement made the announcement.

The FBI and Naval Criminal Investigative Service investigated the case.

Senior Trial Attorney Heather Schmidt of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys David B. Mesrobian and Kirwinn Mike for the Middle District of Florida prosecuted the case.

Updated May 30, 2024

National Security
Press Release Number: 24-684