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Former Government Contractor Sentenced to Nine Years in Federal Prison for Willful Retention of National Defense Information

U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett today sentenced Harold Thomas Martin, III, age 54, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, to nine years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for willful retention of national defense information.

The sentence was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur, Assistant Director John Brown of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division and Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office.

“Harold Martin was entrusted with some of the nation’s most sensitive information,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers.  “Instead of respecting the trust given to him by the American people, Martin violated that trust and put our nation’s security at risk.  This sentence will hold Mr. Martin accountable for his dangerous and unlawful actions.”

“For nearly 20 years, Harold Martin betrayed the trust placed in him by stealing and retaining a vast quantity of highly classified national defense information entrusted to him,” stated U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur.  “This sentence, which is one of the longest ever imposed in this type of case, should serve as a warning that we will find and prosecute government employees and contractors who flagrantly violate their duty to protect classified materials.”

“Whether an individual is a federal contractor or government employee, when given the privilege of holding a security clearance, the American people expect classified information to be protected,” said Assistant Director Brown.  “That is essential to protecting our national security.  In this case, Harold Martin was a serial offender in retaining national defense information for more than two decades.  Today’s sentencing should signal that the FBI takes these violations extremely seriously and will vigorously investigate cases when people improperly handle classified information.”

“Harold Martin took an oath to preserve and protect the nation’s secrets, and violated that oath repeatedly over many years, causing damage with his unlawful mishandling of classified information,” said Special Agent in Charge Jennifer C. Boone, FBI Baltimore Field Office.  “Martin’s actions harmed Intelligence Community sources and methods.  The vitality and integrity of the Intelligence Community requires the strictest adherence to the law for handling classified information.  The FBI will be tireless in investigating cases like the Martin case.”

According to his plea agreement, from December 1993 through Aug. 27, 2016, Martin was employed by at least seven different private companies and assigned as a contractor to work at a number of government agencies.  Martin was required to receive and maintain a security clearance in order to work at each of the government agencies to which he was assigned.  Martin held security clearances up to Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) at various times.  A Top Secret classification means that unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.  An SCI designation compartmentalizes extremely sensitive information.  Because of his work responsibilities and security clearance, Martin was able to access government computer systems, programs, and information in secure locations, including classified national defense information.  Over his many years of holding a security clearance, Martin received training regarding classified information and his duty to protect classified materials from unauthorized disclosure.

Martin admitted that beginning in the late 1990s and continuing through Aug. 31, 2016, he stole and retained U.S. government property from secure locations and computer systems, including documents in both hard copy and digital form relating to the national defense, that bore markings indicating that they were the property of the United States and contained highly classified information of the United States, including Top Secret/SCI information. 

As detailed in his plea agreement, Martin retained the stolen documents and other classified information at his residence and in his vehicle.  Martin knew that the hard copy and digital documents stolen from his workplace contained classified information that related to the national defense and that he was never authorized to retain these documents at his residence or in his vehicle.  Martin admitted that he also knew that the unauthorized removal of these materials risked their disclosure, which would be damaging to the national security of the United States and highly useful to its adversaries.

In court documents and at today’s sentencing hearing, the government noted that crimes such as Martin’s not only create a risk of unauthorized disclosure of, or access to, highly classified information, but often require the government to treat the stolen material as compromised, resulting in the government having to take remedial actions including changing or abandoning national security programs.  In addition, Martin’s criminal conduct caused the government to expend substantial investigative and analytical resources.  The diversion of those resources resulted in significant costs.  

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers and United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI for its work in the investigation and thanked the National Security Agency for its assistance.  Mr. Hur and Mr. Demers thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary A. Myers and Harvey E. Eisenberg, and Trial Attorney David Aaron of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, who prosecuted the case.

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