Former SSCI Security Director James Wolfe Pleads Guilty to Lying to FBI

Government

Earlier this year, James A. Wolfe was indicted in May 2018 for making false statements to the FBI. When the story broke at that time, it read like a cheap Hollywood B-film with the allegation made that a middle-aged gent in a position of extreme trust, shares sensitive information with the ingenue who shares his pillow. In this case, the gent was the director of security for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) and the ingenue, was anything but. She was a cub reporter on the national security beat, covering the SSCI. Both vehemently denied the allegations that info was shared, let alone used by the reporter.

Wolfe pleaded not guilty to three counts of having lied to the FBI.

On October 15, 2018, the Ides of October, Wolfe declared to the court that he wished to change his plea, and pleaded guilty.  He and his attorneys had reached an agreement, which resulted in two of the charges against Wolfe being dismissed.

What’s in James Wolfe’s plea deal?

Interestingly, though the indictment discusses the sharing of sensitive information, Wolfe was never indicted or charged with sharing of classified information with the media – as had Reality Winner who shared NSA info with The Intercept and who is serving 63 months in prison. Likewise, Terry J. Albury who shared classified information with The Intercept and is awaiting sentencing.

This point was emphasized by Wolfe’s attorneys Preston Burton, Benjamin Klubes, and Lauren Riddle, in a statement made to media, per NPR: “We emphasize again today that Jim was never charged with having compromised classified information, nor is such a charge part of today’s plea…Jim has accepted responsibility for his actions and has chosen to resolve this matter now so that he and his family can move forward with their lives.”

Indeed, had there had been a counterintelligence concern of his sharing documents and the like to media, his indictment and arrest in May cauterized that hemorrhage of information.

A review of the plea agreement and statement of offense shows us the following:

  • Wolfe stipulated that he had indeed been a confidential source to media on the affairs of the SSCI.
  • Wolfe faced a maximum fine of up to $250,000 and a maximum of five years imprisonment, followed by up to 3 years of supervised release, in addition to a $100 special assessment for each felony conviction.
  • His guilty plea, along with his acceptance of responsibility allowed the prosecutors to recommend a significant reduction. Though recommended, the court does not have to accept the recommendation that the prison sentence be from zero to six months, and a fine from $500 to $9500.
  • Wolfe is allowed to remain outside of jail while awaiting sentencing.

Christopher Burgess (@burgessct) is an author and speaker on the topic of security strategy. Christopher, served 30+ years within the Central Intelligence Agency. He lived and worked in South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Central Europe, and Latin America. Upon his retirement, the CIA awarded him the Career Distinguished Intelligence Medal, the highest level of career recognition. Christopher co-authored the book, “Secrets Stolen, Fortunes Lost, Preventing Intellectual Property Theft and Economic Espionage in the 21st Century” (Syngress, March 2008).

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