A local defense contractor accused of leaking government secrets to his girlfriend from China could be headed to jail for a long time.
Sixty-year-old Benjamin Pierce Bishop, a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Army, pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court to willfully retaining and communicating classified national defense information to a person not authorized to receive it.
In his plea agreement, Bishop admitted to emailing his 27-year-old girlfriend, who was in the U.S. on a student visa, classified information concerning U.S. national defense information related to joint training and planning sessions between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea. He also admitted to removing several classified documents from his work at U.S. Pacific Command and kept them at his Honolulu residence.
“He was helping her with her graduate studies and with her thesis and he took some douments home to educate himself and to help her,” said Bishop’s attorney, Birney Bervar. “He didn’t give her any documents.”
“Those documents set forth defense strategies for entire Pacific region,” said assistant U.S. attorney Ken Sorenson. “Clearly the Pacific region is an area of great concern to U.S. national security.”
Bishop was arrested on March 15, 2013. His attorney says it has never been proven that Bishop’s girlfriend is a spy or has any connection to the Chinese government.
Bishop will face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and three years of supervised release for each of the two counts of conviction when he is sentenced on June 26.