As I have previously cautioned, it behooves security clearance applicants to think carefully before signing their SF-86 form. There can be serious penalties for lying.

One Florida man allegedly just learned this the hard way – when he was indicted by a federal grand jury for false statements to the government. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jeffrey F. Bohn sought a security clearance in June 2010 for an unknown position. He failed to disclose an alleged sexual relationship with a foreign national on the SF-86, which is signed by all applicants under penalty of perjury, and also failed to disclose the alleged relationship three subsequent times when questioned by federal background investigators.

The four count indictment charges Bohn with lying to the government in each of those four instances. Each charge carries the potential of 5 years in federal prison. Bohn has pleaded not guilty.

The problem with a mysterious lover

If the case were not intriguing enough already, the Tampa Bay Times further reports that Bohn may not actually have known the true identity of his alleged lover (although he allegedly did know that she was a foreign national). Comments made by the federal judge at Bohn’s arraignment strongly hint that the unidentified woman has some affiliation with a foreign intelligence service or, for other illicit reasons, lied to Bohn about her true identity.

The little-noticed case does not represent a change in the law; prosecution for lying on the SF-86 or during a federal background investigation has always been an available recourse for the government. It may, however, hint at a shift in policy by the federal government, which has largely used security clearance denial as the primary punishment for applicant perjury. Applicants with potential issues are strongly advised to consult with an attorney before starting the background investigation process or submitting the SF-86.


This article is intended as general information only and should not be construed as legal advice. Consult an attorney regarding your specific situation. 

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Sean M. Bigley retired from the practice of law in 2023, after a decade representing clients in the security clearance process. He was previously an investigator for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (then-U.S. Office of Personnel Management) and served from 2020-2024 as a presidentially-appointed member of the National Security Education Board. For security clearance assistance, readers may wish to consider Attorney John Berry, who is available to advise and represent clients in all phases of the security clearance process, including pre-application counseling, denials, revocations, and appeals. Mr. Berry can be found at