March 22, 2012
Space Scientist Sentenced To 13 Years For Espionage Attempts
On Wednesday, an ex-government space scientist was sentenced to 13 years in prison for selling space and defense secrets to an Israeli spy.
Stewart Nozette told U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman that he accepts full responsibility for his actions.
Nozette had high-level security clearance during decades of government work on science and space projects at NASA.
He pleaded guilty to one count of attempted espionage, admitting he tried to provide Israel with top secret information about satellites, early warning systems, methods for retaliating against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information and major elements of defense strategy.
Nozette was set up by the FBI in a sting operation, during which an undercover agent posed as an Israeli spy looking to by U.S. secrets.
The judge also sentenced him to 37 months on charges of fraud and tax evasion on Wednesday, which will be served concurrently with the attempted espionage sentence.
Nozette was known for his work on defense technology during the Reagan-era, specifically as one who worked on the "Star Wars" missile defense shield.
The defense attorneys called the espionage case "vindictive" and an illustration of "overreaching government conduct" at a time when Nozette was already enmeshed in tax and fraud case.
Government agents searched his home in 2007 during a tax and fraud probe and found classified documents.
Agents also found that Nozette sent an email in 2002 threatening to sell information about a classified program he was working on to Israel or another country.
Nozette has also been ordered to pay $217,800 in restitution for fraudulent claims he made to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington D.C., the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.