Former Air Force Employee Sentenced to Prison for Retaining Stolen Government Property to Sell to a Foreign Government
LOS ANGELES—A Marina del Rey man was sentenced today to more than three years in prison for providing sensitive information about a network used to control and communicate with military satellites to an individual he believed was a foreign intelligence officer working for the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Brian Scott Orr, 42, was sentenced to 37 months in federal prison by United States District Judge Beverly Reid O’Connell. In addition to the prison term, Judge O’Connell ordered Orr to pay a fine of $10,000, and to serve a three-year term of supervised release after he completes the prison term.
After being arrested by the FBI and charged last November, Orr pleaded guilty on March 17 to retention of stolen government property.
Orr is a former civilian employee who worked for the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Rome, New York, from 2009 through 2011. While employed there, Orr maintained a Top Secret security clearance and was assigned to work on sensitive and classified matters related to the Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN), a computer network used to control military satellites. Some of Orr’s responsibilities included the identification and evaluation of vulnerabilities in the network.
While working in this capacity, Orr obtained various materials used to train personnel on how to operate the computer network. Orr resigned from the Air Force Research Laboratory in 2011 after his access to classified and other sensitive areas had been withdrawn, but he unlawfully retained the restricted materials he had obtained. The materials were labeled with warnings restricting their export from the United States.
From September 2013 until November 2013, Orr met with an individual whom he believed to be a representative of a Chinese intelligence service, but who was in reality an undercover FBI agent (UCA). Orr met with the UCA multiple times and provided a two thumb drives that contained sensitive military technical data he had obtained during his employment at the Air Force Research Laboratory.
According to the plea agreement filed in this case, Orr provided the training materials he had obtained at the AFRL to the UCA and received $5,000.
Orr told the UCA he was the “foremost expert on attacking the computer network.” During the course of his communications with the UCA, Orr stated that he could destroy or disrupt U.S. military satellites on behalf of the PRC government, the entity he believed the UCA was working for, according to the plea agreement.
According to sentencing papers filed by prosecutors, Orr suggested to the UCA that, for a “big reward,” he could explain “the full amount, how to…destroy it,” when discussing the satellite system. Orr also suggested that he would need to be taken out of the country in order to “actually do something to this network.”
During one exchange, Orr explained to the UCA that he was providing him with 2 gigabytes of data that had “all the courses” used to “train satellite network operators.”
The investigation in this case was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI).