Guilty plea to attempted espionage expected from Chevy Chase scientist

September 6, 2011

A Chevy Chase scientist held since authorities accused him of attempted espionage in 2009 is scheduled to plead guilty to federal charges Wednesday, according to a court docket entry.

Stewart D. Nozette, 54, is charged with giving sensitive government information to an undercover FBI agent posing as an Israeli intelligence officer. The agent paid Nozette $11,000 for classified material, which was exchanged in 2009 through a “dead drop” post-office box, the FBI said at the time.

The plea hearing is set for Wednesday morning before U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman.

A defense attorney for Nozette declined to discuss the hearing. “I’d prefer not to” say what the plea would entail, John C. Kiyonaga of Alexandria saidTuesday.

Nozette, who held a variety of sensitive military and civilian jobs, worked for the Energy Department’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1990 through 1999, prosecutors have said. He was credited with helping develop a radar in 1994 that suggested ice on the south pole of the moon.

He has held security clearances as high as top secret and had regular access to classified information as recently as 2006.

An FBI agent wrote in court papers that Nozette acted as a technical consultant for an unnamed aerospace firm that the Israeli government owned. From 1998 through 2008, the scientist “answered the company’s questions and, in return, Nozette received regular payments from the company,” the agent wrote.

The agent wrote that the Israeli company paid Nozette $225,000 during that span.

Staff writer Mary Pat Flaherty contributed to this report.

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