Former FBI agent to get probation, fine in Chinese spying case
LOS ANGELES- A former FBI agent who disclosed confidential information in connection with a Chinese spying investigation will be sentenced to probation and a $1,000 (euro780) fine, a judge said Monday.
U.S. District Judge Gary Klausner said he would accept a plea bargain for Denise K. Woo, 47, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count in June as part of the agreement.
Klausner called the plea deal, which calls for one year of probation, "appropriate." He set Woo's formal sentencing for Oct. 23.
A 2004 federal indictment alleged that in 1999 Woo, then an FBI special agent, "intentionally disclosed" the name of an informant to a man identified only as "J.W." and told him about telephone surveillance involving an investigation. Authorities later said the man was a Chinese-American employee of a defense contractor who was under investigation into whether he passed defense secrets to China.
In the plea agreement, Woo acknowledged that she had passed on information about the informant's identity to J.W. Her lawyers argued that she acted out of concern that the man, a family friend, was being wrongly investigated.
Woo, of Redondo Beach, California, was put on leave in 2001 and later dismissed.
Under the plea deal, the government dropped more serious charges of disclosing a wiretap, revealing the identity of a covert operative and lying to FBI agents. If convicted of those charges, she would have faced more than a decade in prison.
Her lawyer, Michael Camunez, has called the case "completely overblown."
The investigation of the defense worker was led by former FBI counterintelligence agent James J. Smith, according to court records. Last year Smith, 62, pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his two-decade affair with socialite Katrina Leung, a paid U.S. government informant who was eventually alleged to be a Chinese double agent.
Leung, 52, of San Marino, California, was charged with illegally possessing classified documents with intent to harm U.S. interests, but a federal judge dismissed the charges, citing prosecutorial misconduct. While the government's appeal of the dismissal was pending, Leung agreed in December to plead guilty to making a false statement to the FBI and filing a false tax return.
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