Lee Eugene Madsen, the 24-year-old Navy enlisted man accused of selling top secret Pentagon documents, "wanted money . . . to buy things" and was "very confident that he wouldn't get caught," his male roommate said in an interview yesterday.
"I warned him, but he wouldn't listen to me," said Gary Miller, 23, in a tearful interview in Alexandria's U.S. courthouse as he waited for Madsen to appear in court. "He knew what he was doing," Miller said.
Miller said that his roommate, charged with smuggling a top secret document out of the Pentagon in his pants, "had a swollen head" and was convinced he would not be arrested.
In the interview Miller also said he had "tossed in the trashcan" a classified document Madsen had brought to their Northern Virginia apartment in March. "It was just in the way," Miller said yesterday."I didn't have any use for it."
Madsen, a special security officer for the Pentagon's Strategic Warning Staff, "wanted to have some extra money around. He sort of thought this (selling documents) was a clean way of dealing. But he was in before he really knew what he had done," Miller said.
The two men were planning to move to Los Angeles in October when Madsen was released from the Navy, Miller said yesterday, wringing his hands. "Now, he added, "I think my friend's in a lot of trouble."
Pale and shaking, the Navy petty officer appeared before a federal judge in Alexandria yesterday morning and was ordered held on $250,000 bond on espionage charges. During the 10-minute hearing before District Judge John A. MacKenzie, Madsen, wearing blue slacks and an orange shortsleeved shirt, requested a court-appointed attorney.
He was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday night in a bedroom of the Baileys Crossroads apartment he shares with Miller and two other men. "He was calm," Miller recalled yesterday. "But it was a shock to all of us."
Shortly before his arrest, a federal grand jury in Alexandria had returned a sealed eight-count indictment against the Arkansas-born Navy yeoman, accusing him of stealing eight government documents for $700 and transmitting them to two unauthorized people this month. If convicted, Madsen faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.
Miller, who described himself as Madsen's "best friend" said they had lived together for six months at the Woodlake Towers complex off Rte. 50 in Fairfax County. They had planned to attend motel management school together after Madsen's tour of duty ended Oct. 16, said Miller who works in the accounting department of an Arlington firm that supplies part-time office workers.
Miller said his roommate owns a 1974 Chevrolet Vega and wanted money "to buy a new car." Now, Miller said, "Lee knows what's going to happen. But he's very strong."
Madsen is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges Friday morning.
According to FBI affidavit, the bizarre case began July 26 when Rick Noble, a man described by Miller as a mutual friend, told the FBI that Madsen has asked him if he knew anyone willing to buy secret drug intelligence reports compiled by the Drug Enforcement Agency and Central Intelligence Agency.
Noble then was enlisted as an undercover agent by the FBI, supplied with marked money and a hidden tape recorder to obtain various secret documents, the affidavit said.
The investigation eventually led to a meeting -- arranged by Noble -- between Madsen and a FBI agent, William Chapin, who posed as a Florida drug smuggler, the affidavit states.
The FBI man said he was taken by Madsen to the Pentagon last Friday where the agent signed a phony name on the register and was given a tour of Madsen's office.
When Chapin asked Madsen what was the most sensitive document in the room, Madsen allegedly produced a secret report "USSR/Warsaw Pact General Indicator List." According to the affidavit, Madsen tucked the document "under his vest and down his pants", walked past security guards and gave it to Chapin.
"I knew he took documents home," said Miller yesterday. "He kept them in a black briefcase. Last Friday night Lee and I had a fight over it. But I suppose money was more important to him."
Miller said after that "everything happened so fast. Lee woke up one morning and said, 'Wow, I can't believe I did it.' I suppose he thought it (taking the documents) wasn't that important."
What concerned Pentagon officials most about the case, sources said, was the ease in which Madsen was able to get the undercover FBI agent into his office, which contains numerous highly classified documents.
Gary Miller said yesterday that he, too, had been taken to Madsen's office. "I went in one Sunday to help him distribute some wires," he recalled. "Everything was marked 'classified' and 'top secret'."
Miller recalled how simple it was to enter the building and how casual Madsen was about his job. "I guess I thought of the Pentagon that way, too," he said.