Leatrice Malika DeBruhl-Daniels was warned to keep her distance from Nadal Diya.
They met in Dubai in 2016. She was a special agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service working at the U.S. Consulate; he was a Syrian national trying to get a tourist visa to the United States.
According to court documents, she reached out to contacts at the State Department and Department of Homeland Security, and learned that Diya was the target of both a DHS probe and an FBI counterterrorism investigation.
“Stay away from Diya,” they told her, according to court documents.
But instead of backing away, DeBruhl-Daniels became romantically involved with Diya, told him about the investigations and warned him he would be arrested if he traveled to the United States, prosecutors say.
The Mitchellville, Md., resident was herself arrested Friday and is scheduled to have a detention hearing in Alexandria federal court Wednesday afternoon. She faces a federal charge of obstruction of justice in Houston.
According to the criminal complaint, Diya wooed DeBruhl-Daniels with gifts and favors. In March 2017, he threw her an extravagant birthday party in Dubai, according to the criminal complaint, which NCIS, State Department employees and active-duty Navy personnel attended. She borrowed $1,400 from him for a vacation in Greece that July, although she says she paid him back in alcohol. Her son began working for his company, making $3,000 in two months. He bought her a gold bracelet and a massage.
“I’m deeply attracted to you,” she wrote in a note on her phone included in the court documents. “I ultimately want the best for you and pray those investigators see you like I do.”
Later, she wrote him to say he had “some associates that are well known” to federal law enforcement and that he should get a lawyer, according to the affidavit. “I gave them no more than what I could to emphasize your innocence,” she said, adding that she hoped he hadn’t lied to her, “since I put my neck out there.”
When confronted with those messages by NCIS agents in May, DeBruhl-Daniels responded, “I didn’t remember sending this or telling him this but this is pretty damn bad,” according to the court documents.
She maintained that her intention was to help with the investigation but that she mistakenly let it get personal, according to prosecutors.
Diya, 46, was charged last month in Houston federal court with using fake identification documents, having claimed to be from Guatemala and Argentina while attempting to travel freely in the United States. DHS said he was involved in illegally exporting goods from the United States to Iran, according to the court documents.
DeBruhl-Daniels, who has been a special agent with NCIS for nine years, had a top-secret security clearance with access to sensitive compartmentalized information. In April 2018, she was moved from Dubai to Hawaii, where she was supposed to be part of a personal security detail for a high-ranking Navy official, according to the court papers. But after her arrival, her assignment was canceled, and her clearance suspended.
A public defender representing DeBruhl-Daniels in Virginia did not immediately return a request for comment.