Monday, March 13, 2017

Gen. Patraeus comparison helps grant leniency to Indian American who took classified docs ome

MOHAN L. NIRALA, 52, of Laurel, Maryland, was
 to spend 12 months and one day in prison. However, his attorney argued for lieniency by comparing his offense to the sentence meted out to former Gen. David Patraeus.

“As compared to the instant offense, Mr. Petraeus’s conviction was more serious in every measurable way — particularly in light of the sensitivity of information involved and the disclosure to an unauthorized person for use in writing a book,” argued Nirala’s attorney, federal defender Todd Richman. Partiaeus received 2 years of probation with no time in prison for sharing classified material with his mistress.

Gen. David Patraeus
U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on March 10 apparently took that argument under consideration. He reduced Nirala's sentence to one year and one day in prison for willful retention of national defense information.

Nirala pleaded guilty on Sept. 16, 2016. 

Nirala was a full-time government employee and imagery scientist at the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) from February 2009 to 2015. On Jan. 10, 2014, eight days after his clearances were suspended, FBI agents recovered over 20 classified documents at Nirala’s home during the execution of a federal search warrant. 

A review of these documents determined that they ranged in classification from Secret to Top Secret. During the search, Nirala falsely stated that he did not bring home any classified documents.

According court records, on March 8, 2016, agents arrived at Nirala’s home to execute an arrest warrant. After Nirala failed to answer the door, agents made a forced entry and found Nirala in the basement before taking him into custody. During a sweep of the basement, agents discovered a white duct-taped box underneath the basement stairs. Inside the box were over 500 pages of documents classified at Top Secret and Secret levels.

Nirala's attorneys said that their client was keeping those records in a safe place in preparation for a discrimination complaint he wanted to file against his employers. There is no evidence that Nirala shared those documents with anyone else or any foreign government.