Hawaii Man Pleads Guilty to Communicating Classified National Defense Information to an Unauthorized Person
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 13, 2014|
HONOLULU—Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 60, a Honolulu, Hawaii defense contractor and former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty today in federal court to willfully communicating classified national defense information to a person not authorized to receive it and willfully retaining classified national defense information. The guilty plea was announced by Florence T. Nakakuni, U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii, and John P. Carlin, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice.
Bishop was arrested on March 15, 2013 on charges that he communicated classified information to a person identified as a 27-year-old Chinese woman with whom he had a romantic relationship during the year preceding the charges. According to the criminal complaint, during Bishop’s relationship with the woman, further identified as a graduate student in the United States on a J1 Visa, he communicated classified information concerning U.S. national defense systems and removed classified information from his work space at U.S. Pacific Command, which he then kept at his Honolulu area residence. In his plea agreement filed with the court, Bishop admitted that on or about May 12, 2012, he “willfully communicated, in an e-mail attachment entitled ‘Comments on Extending Deterrence from the Triad’ to PERSON 1, classified U.S. national defense information related to joint training and planning sessions between the United States and the Republic of Korea, which information related to the national defense and was classified at the SECRET level.” Bishop also admitted to willfully retaining multiple classified documents at his residence related to U.S. national defense, including the U.S. Armed Forces Defense Planning Guide for years 2014-2018; a document entitled Optimizing U.S. Force Posture in the Asia-Pacific; the U.S. Department of Defense China Strategy; and the 2010 Guidance for Employment of Force (GEF).
When sentenced on June 26, 2014 by United States District Judge Leslie E. Kobayashi, Bishop will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release for each of the two counts of conviction.
U.S. Attorney Florence T. Nakakuni stated: “This case once again demonstrates our commitment and unwavering resolve to pursue and prosecute individuals who violate their security oaths and endanger our national security by unlawfully communicating sensitive and damaging classified national defense information to persons who are not entitled to receive it.”
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ken Sorenson of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Hawaii and Senior Trial Attorney Robert E. Wallace Jr., of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.