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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

Retired Navy SEAL sentenced for removal of classified documents while employed as defense contractor

Charlottesville, Va. — A former contractor for the Department of Defense, who pleaded guilty late last year, was sentenced Friday to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine on charges related to the removal of classified materials following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Bruce Schliemann, 50, of Virginia Beach, previously waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents.

Schliemann, a retired Navy SEAL, worked as an employee for a Department of Defense contractor in San Diego. In April 2010, Schliemann knowingly downloaded classified information from a classified computer in a secure facility to a personal thumb drive. He removed the thumb drive from the secure facility and transferred those classified files to the laptop computer that had been issued to him by his employer.

After removing the classified markings, Schliemann emailed the classified material to employees of another defense contractor located in the Virginia. The employees of this second defense contractor subsequently then transmitted the classified information to a number of unauthorized people without security clearances in several locations.

"HSI will use all resources at its disposal to prevent sensitive and restricted technology from being used for nefarious purposes," said HSI Washington Acting Special Agent in Charge Katrina W. Berger. "Today's sentencing underscores the potential global consequences when sensitive information or technically come into the wrong hands and potentially threaten our country's safety and security."

"Protecting the integrity of classified information is crucial to our national security," U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy said. "Bruce Schliemann was a decorated Navy SEAL who knew the rules governing the use of national security information. Nonetheless, he disclosed classified material without authorization, and then tried to cover up his crime. We will do all we can to identify breaches of national security like the one committed by Mr. Schliemann and hold the offenders responsible."

"The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), which is the criminal investigative arm of the Department of Defense (DoD), Office of Inspector General, is committed to working with our law enforcement partners and aggressively protecting America's warfighters and DoD interests," said Robert E. Craig Jr., special agent in charge of the DCIS Mid-Atlantic Field Office. "This case has proven a particularly egregious example of a former military member unlawfully removing and retaining classified information, the release of which greatly undermines not only DoD, but also our country's national security. Let it be clear that no individual, including a highly decorated veteran, has the authority to pick and choose which laws and regulations governing classified information he/she will follow, particularly in furtherance of one's personal interests."

In September 2010, Schliemann found out he was being investigated for his actions and consulted with a computer-savvy friend for assistance in "wiping" the hard drive of his laptop computer. After wiping the hard drive, he physically destroyed the hard drive and thumb drive that held the classified information.

When approached by agents in September 2010, Schliemann lied about a number of facts, including telling the agents he obtained the classified information by "digging around on the Internet." The defendant also specifically denied removing the classified information from the secure facility in San Diego.