Former U.S. Senate Employee Pleads Guilty to False Statements Charge
James A. Wolfe, 57, of Ellicott City, Maryland, a former staff employee of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), pleaded guilty today to one count of making a false statement to special agents of the FBI during the course of an investigation into the unlawful disclosure of classified national security information.
The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu for the District of Columbia, and Special Agent in Charge Timothy M. Dunham of the Counterintelligence Division of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
Wolfe was indicted in June 2018 on three false statements charges. Under the plea agreement, the government will move to dismiss the remaining counts at sentencing.
At the time Wolfe made the false statement to the FBI, he was the Director of Security for the SSCI, a position he held for more than 28 years. As SSCI Director of Security, Wolfe was entrusted with receiving, maintaining, and managing classified national security information provided to the SSCI by the Executive Branch of the United States.
According to a statement of offense filed at the hearing, the FBI opened an investigation in April 2017 into the unauthorized disclosure of classified national security information that had appeared in a specific article published by a national news organization. In December 2017, during the course of the investigation, Wolfe was interviewed. Wolfe was asked specifically about whether he had been in contact with any reporters and, if so, who those reporters were, and what were the nature and extent of those contacts and the means by which those contacts occurred.
By his guilty plea, Wolfe admitted making false statements to the FBI concerning whether he had provided unclassified, but not otherwise publicly-available, information to reporters. Specifically, on Oct. 16, 2017, and again on Oct. 24, 2017, Wolfe provided a particular reporter with non-public information concerning a witness who had been subpoenaed to testify before the SSCI. Wolfe also admitted making false statements to the FBI about his contacts with three additional reporters, including one of the authors of the aforementioned article.
The charge of making a false statement to special agents of the FBI is a felony punishable by a statutory maximum of five years in prison and potential financial penalties. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes. The sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson scheduled sentencing for Dec. 20.
The investigation into this matter is being conducted by the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jocelyn Ballantine and Tejpal S. Chawla and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Ingersoll of the District of Columbia, with assistance from the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, National Security Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
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