Ex-NSA worker gets house arrest for conflict of interest

Ex-NSA worker gets house arrest for conflict of interest
Ex-NSA worker gets house arrest for conflict of interest 

Staff Writer
April 7, 2007

BALTIMORE - In a rare case involving a criminal conflict of interest, a 
Severna Park man will be confined to his house for six months for 
steering more than $700,000 in federal government contracts to companies 
owned by him and his wife.

Wayne J. Schepens, 37, received six months home detention and two years 
probation in the sentence handed down in U.S. District Court yesterday.

The former National Security Agency employee will also have to pay a 
$100,000 fine and perform 50 hours community service. He pleaded guilty 
in February to one count of acts affecting a personal financial interest 
as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

The charge stems from Mr. Schepens' involvement in the Cyber Defense 
Exercise, which he helped create.

The annual exercise pits military service academy students against NSA 
workers who try to hack into computer networks created by the students.

Mr. Schepens oversaw most of the exercise's aspects. Between March 2003 
and July 2005, companies owned by Mr. Schepens and his wife, Jennifer, 
received $774,000 in government contracts to support the exercise. Mrs. 
Schepens was never accused of wrongdoing.

The Schepens also received $54,000 on invoices submitted to the U.S. 
Military Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy under separate 
contracts for the same or similar services rendered.

In addition, their firm got a little over $606,000 through a contract 
and subcontract awarded on a no-bid basis to support the 2005 and 2006 
exercises. Mr. Schepens recommended the deals be awarded to his wife's 
firm, but he never disclosed his ties to the company in a 2004 financial 
disclosure report.

Addressing the court, Mr. Schepens said his work on the exercise, and 
what he accomplished, caused him to become arrogant.

"I began to rationalize the steps taken," he said. "I just figured if 
the work was getting done and no one was complaining, then that's all 
that mattered."

As his wife got more involved, Mr. Schepens said, "I continued to 
rationalize that the mission mattered more. I know what I was doing was 
wrong now."

Mr. Schepens resigned from NSA last July after an investigation of his 
conflict began. He had been with the agency since 1998. His attorney, 
Steven Wrobel, described him as a "burning star" on his way to a top NSA 
post before his troubles surfaced.

Judge Catherine C. Blake told Mr. Schepens she was glad he accepted 
responsibility and used the word arrogance in his remarks. She said Mr. 
Schepens did "a great deal of good" with his exercise, but made some bad 

He could have faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. But 
prosecutors did not push for jail time.

During his home detention, Mr. Schepens will be electronically monitored 
and allowed to leave home for work and other purposes approved by his 
probation officer.

Published April 07, 2007, The Capital, Annapolis, Md
Copyright  2007 The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

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