Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning announced Friday a former developer for the National Security Agency has pleaded guilty to willful retention of national defense information.
Sixty-seven-year-old Nghia Hoang Pho of Ellicott City, Maryland held several security clearances and had access to classified and national defense information, as a Tailored Access Operations developer for the NSA. He also worked on highly classified projects.
Pho removed and retained U.S. government writings and documents that contained Sensitive Compartmented and Top Secret Information. Pho kept the material in digital form and hard copy at his residence in Ellicott City.
“The FBI investigation revealed a flagrant violation of national security law by removal of classified information to a vulnerable setting. The U.S. government entrusts the most sensitive classified information to its security clearance holders, and in return, demands unyielding adherence to law, policy, and good sense to protect classified information by maintaining classified information in secured, approved government space. The scope of harm is not theoretical — it denotes another attack on the bedrock secrecy and discipline required of USG security clearance holding professionals. The criminal acts described in the criminal information show a subject heedless of obligations to national security, a betrayal of the trust inherent in the security clearance he was granted, and provides clear notice that the FBI will vigorously investigate cases whenever a compromise of classified information arises,” said Special Agent in Charge Johnson said in a statement.
Pho faces a maximum 10-year prison sentence. His sentencing is scheduled for April 6, 2018.