Ex-Analyst for NSA Pleads to Espionage

Saturday, December 19, 1998 - Brooke Master - The Washington Post

A former National Security Agency code analyst pleaded guilty yesterday to selling top-secret documents to the KGB, including a comprehensive list of U.S. reconnaissance programs and a description of nuclear targets in Russia.

At a 10-minute hearing in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, David Sheldon Boone pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage and agreed to forfeit $52,000, including his retirement fund and a hand-held scanner he used to copy documents.

Boone, who served in the Army from 1970 to 1991, faces between 24 and 30 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. That range reflects the fact that Boone passed documents that were more sensitive than those passed by most spies who have been convicted in the past four years, officials said.

But Boone's betrayal was less serious than that of two former CIA officials -- Aldrich H. Ames, whose spying led to deaths of U.S. agents, and Harold J. Nicholson, who revealed the identities of new CIA recruits, officials said.

Boone, who lived in Germany until his Oct. 10 arrest, freely admitted his wrongdoing after FBI agents arrested him at Dulles International Airport, according to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement. He waived his rights and immediately confessed that he had given Moscow a 400-page manual listing all U.S. reconnaissance programs and signal collection systems. He also admitted turning over documents detailing where U.S. nuclear missiles were aimed in case of a showdown with the Soviet Union.

The Flint, Mich., native ended his written confession by stating, "I'm glad it is finally over," according to court documents.

One of Boone's attorneys, James C. Clarke, said his client decided to plead guilty because "he has chosen to accept responsibility for what he did and pay whatever price the court deems necessary."

For most of his Army career, Boone, 46, was a signals analyst. He worked for three years as a senior cryptologic traffic analyst for the highly secret NSA at Fort Meade before being reassigned to Augsburg, Germany, in 1988, according to the statement of facts.

Shortly before that transfer, Boone, strapped for cash and disgruntled with the American legal system because of a divorce case, walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington and volunteered his services. Over the next four years, he was paid nearly $60,000 for handing over a variety of classified information to a KGB officer he knew as "Igor." Over the years, he used Soviet-issued disguises -- including a wig and mustache -- and a gym bag and a gasoline can to conceal his spying, court documents said.

Boone retired from the Army in 1991, remarried and settled in Germany. He was lured back to the United States by a paid FBI contact who was posing as a Russian agent. Boone agreed to resume spying and agreed to meet the contact in the Washington area.

The FBI declined to comment.

U.S. District Judge Albert V. Bryan Jr. set sentencing for Feb. 26.

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