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The State

A soldier from Orange County charged with espionage and accused of passing defense secrets to East Germany will be court-martialed this summer, but prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty, military officials said. Spec. 4 Michael A. Peri, 21, an expert on Warsaw Pact radar equipment, will go on trial June 6 on charges of espionage, illegally entering East Germany, possessing classified documents, larceny of military property and making a false statement to military authorities, Maj. Samuel Taylor, deputy public affairs officer of the 5th Army Corps, said in a telephone interview from Frankfurt, West Germany. The maximum penalty in espionage cases is death, but Taylor said the commander of the 5th Corps decided that Peri’s case would not be tried as a capital offense. “The maximum sentence he could receive is life in prison,” Taylor said. Taylor refused to say why the commander declined to seek the death penalty, saying only it was based on a review of the evidence and interviews with Peri’s company and regimental commanders. Peri, who went to La Quinta High School in Westminster and whose family lives in Laguna Niguel, is being held in the Army Confinement Facility in Mannheim, West Germany.


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