By Sharon Gaudin
July 19, 2007
A former U.S. Marine and FBI analyst was sentenced to 10 years in
federal prison for espionage charges in connection with stealing
classified national defense documents from the White House, the FBI, the
Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of State.
Leandro Aragoncillo, 48, received his sentence on Wednesday in U.S.
District Court in Newark, N.J. A release from the Department of Justice
noted that there is no parole in the federal system, and Aragoncillo,
who also was fined $40,000, can be expected to serve nearly the entire
sentence except for potential "good-inmate" credits.
Aragoncillo used text messages, Web-based e-mail accounts and database
queries to pull off the espionage. But it was the same technology that
helped the government track him down and build a case against him. The
e-mails sent, the phone calls made, and the stolen information archived
on a set of CDs all left a digital trail that was his ultimate undoing.
"Those charged with protecting the nation have a special responsibility
to maintain their oath of loyalty to the United States," said Kenneth L.
Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, in a
statement. "As a former U.S. Marine and FBI analyst, Aragoncillo
betrayed that oath, violated our espionage laws, and now must suffer the
consequences of his actions."
Aragoncillo's case marks the first time in modern history that someone
has been charged with spying out of the White House .
The man who was a career Marine and had served under two vice presidents
in the White House had pled guilty to stealing information in an attempt
to foster a political coup in the Philippines, his home country. At his
plea hearing last year, Aragoncillo admitted that he regularly
transferred to his Philippine contacts national security documents
classified as Secret. He also admitted traveling to the Philippines in
January 2001 to meet his co-conspirators, including a visit to the
Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the president of the
In 2005, federal agents executed search warrants on the houses of
Aragoncillo and his U.S.-based conspirator, Michael Ray Aquino, a
resident of the Philippines who was in the country on a visa. Both men
were arrested after agents found more than 736 classified documents
between the two homes.
The arrests marked the end of what prosecutors called a "criminal
conspiracy against the United States that spanned the globe, involved
the theft of classified national defense documents" from the White
House, the FBI, the Department of Defense and the U.S. State Department.
The scheme included a group of conspirators who ranged from the former
Marine turned FBI analyst to an ousted Philippine president to a foreign
intelligence officer on the lam from double murder charges.
"The sentencing of Leandro Arangoncillo brings to a close a harmful and
disgraceful story of how a formerly trustworthy FBI employee and U.S.
Marine can turn into an enemy of the American people and the American
way of life," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Weysan Dun, in a written
statement. "Aragoncillo and his cohort, Michael Ray Aquino, have come
full circle in the justice system, and for them the circle ends at a
Copyright 2007 CMP Media LLC
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