Government scientist Stewart Nozette was sentenced to 13 years in prison Wednesday after trying to sell classified information to an undercover agent he thought was an Israeli intelligence officer.
“Stewart Nozette betrayed his country and the trust that was placed in him by attempting to sell some of America’s most closely-guarded secrets for profit,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco said in a statement.
Nozette, 54, was sentenced for attempted espionage and for fraud and tax charges.
From 1989 through 2006, he had regular access to classified information on U.S. space technology in positions with the Department of Energy, Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He had served on the White House’s National Space Council under President George H.W. Bush.
In September 2009, Nozette received a phone call from an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. During the conversation, Nozette touted his clearance and told the agent anything “that the U.S. has done in space, I’ve seen.”
Nozette, who was already awaiting sentencing for fraud and tax charges, took $10,000 in cash from the FBI in exchange for national defense information classified up to Top Secret SCI.
He was arrested Oct. 19, 2009 following a meeting at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington in which he asked the agent for higher payments.
“I gave you even in this first run some of the most classified information that there is,” he told the agent. “I’ve sort of crossed the Rubicon.”
Nozette was also president, treasurer and director of the Alliance for Competitive Technology and used false reimbursement claims from 2000 to 2006 to defraud NASA, the U.S Naval Research Laboratory and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Concurrently, Nozette admitted to evading $200,000 in federal taxes and misusing ACT’s tax-exempt status for personal benefit.
Nozette pleaded guilty to attempted espionage in September 2011 and pleaded guilty to fraud and tax charges in January 2009.
In addition to prison time, Nozette must pay more than $217,000 in fraud restitution.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony Asuncion from the District of Columbia and trial attorneys Deborah A. Curtis and Heather M. Schmidt from the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.