Home Knoxville Press Releases 2009 Former Oak Ridge Complex Employee Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Attempting to Sell Restricted Uranium Enrichment...

Former Oak Ridge Complex Employee Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Attempting to Sell Restricted Uranium Enrichment Equipment

U.S. Attorney’s Office June 18, 2009
  • Eastern District of Tennessee (865) 545-4167

KNOXVILLE, TN—On Thursday, June 18, 2009, in U.S. District Court in Knoxville,Tenn., U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan, Jr., sentenced Roy Lynn Oakley, 67, of Harriman, Tenn., to six years in prison for trying to sell parts of uranium enrichment equipment that he had stolen from a U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) facility in Oak Ridge. Oakley had illegally taken this equipment while employed at a building formerly known as the K-25 plant. The K-25 building, now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), was operated by DOE as a facility to produce highly enriched uranium used in the manufacture of atomic weapons. Upon his release from prison, Oakley will be on supervised release for three years.

Oakley was sentenced today as a result of his guilty plea on January 26, 2009, to an Indictment charging him with unlawful Disclosure of Restricted Data under the Atomic Energy Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2274(b), in connection with his attempt in 2007 to illegally sell this classified equipment to a person Oakley believed to be a foreign agent. Oakley had been employed in 2006 and 2007 by Bechtel Jacobs at the ETTP in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, when he stole the equipment from the ETTP facility.

When Oakley pled guilty in January, he admitted that he had tried to sell these materials for $200,000 to a person he believed was an agent of a foreign power and that the restricted items he tried to sell were, in fact, pieces of equipment known as “barrier” and associated hardware items that play a crucial role in the production of highly enriched uranium used for atomic weapons through what is known as the gaseous diffusion process.

Oakley’s conviction and sentence today stemmed from a 2007 undercover investigation by the FBI that began after information was discovered that Oakley was in possession of restricted DOE uranium enrichment equipment and was offering to sell these materials to a foreign government.

In January 2007, the FBI contacted Oakley using an undercover agent who assumed the role of an agent of a foreign government. In recorded calls and during a face to face meeting with the FBI undercover agent, Oakley stated that he had taken parts of the uranium enrichment fuel rods or tubes, and other associated hardware items from the ETTP work site, and that he was willing to sell these materials for $200,000 to the French government.

Oakley told the undercover agent that while he did not want to sell the materials to a country like North Korea, he was willing to sell them materials to the French government as he thought they might benefit from it. During a meeting with the FBI undercover agent as part of a “sting” operation, Oakley handed over the pieces of tubes and associated items and received $200,000 in cash. At that point, Oakley was seized by agents of the FBI and afterwards admitted that he had been trying several times to sell these restricted materials to the French government. Despite Oakley’s efforts, however, at no time did the French government ever actually agree or make any attempt whatsoever to purchase these restricted materials from him.

U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick stated: “Roy Lynn Oakley was a person who betrayed his country in order to line his pockets with money. His theft of classified nuclear materials for bombs, and his attempt to sell them for personal profit at the expense of his country’s efforts to protects its nuclear materials, clearly shows that Roy Oakley was a traitor to his country and had no regard for the safety of others. I am thankful for the FBI’s excellent investigation and detection of Oakley’s activities. The citizens of our country and East Tennessee owe a deep dept of gratitude for the FBI’s quick detection and response to Oakley’s attempts to compromise our nation’s nuclear program. I hope Oakley will serve as an example to what will happen to others who might be tempted to betray their country for personal profit.”

Rick Lambert, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Knoxville Division, stated: “Over the last 50 years, the torrent of global nuclear proliferation has only fomented that dread which President Dwight Eisenhower once shunned as hopeless finality - a belief that nations “are doomed malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world.” In countering the tide of such proliferation, bringing to justice the trusted insider who would betray America for private gain remains the FBI’s highest priority.”

For additional information, please contact U.S. Attorney Russ Dedrick, 865-545-4167, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Mackie, 865-545-4167, or Public Information Officer Sharry Dedman-Beard, 865-545-4167.