Retired Army Analyst Charged as Soviet Spy
A retired Army intelligence analyst was charged Tuesday with selling the Soviet KGB top secret documents from 1988 to 1991, including sites targeted for tactical nuclear attack if the former Soviet Union struck the United States first.
David Sheldon Boone, 46, who was assigned to the National Security Agency, allegedly walked into the Soviet embassy here and volunteered his services to Moscow, delivering his first classified document for $300.
Charged with conducting most of his espionage after being transferred as a code analyst to an Army facility in Augsburg, Germany, Boone was paid slightly more than $60,000 for the documents he provided to the Soviets.
But John Martin, former chief of the Justice Department’s internal security section, said that the small amount should not be read as an indicator of the true value of what Boone turned over. The paltry sum “is not unusual at all,” Martin said. “It tells you how cheaply people will sell out.”
Although Justice Department officials declined to assess the damage caused by Boone’s espionage activities, the complaint they filed with the court said the materials he passed to the Soviets “could potentially cause grave harm to the national security of the United States.”
Boone, whose case was investigated by Army intelligence and the FBI, was arrested Saturday in an FBI sting operation after flying to Washington from his German residence to meet with his new “handler” for Russia’s SVRR secret police, the KGB’s successor.
But the handler, who paid him $9,000 in marked U.S. currency, turned out to be an FBI “operational asset” who had contacted Boone overseas and enlisted his espionage services for the Russian agency.
Asked to renew his spying activities, Boone allegedly responded, “I’m at your disposal,” according to an affidavit filed with the court by FBI Special Agent Stephanie Douglas.
The FBI “operational asset” first contacted Boone by phone on Sept. 5, indicating that he was with the KGB-SVRR. He arranged to meet Boone in London to discuss espionage proposals that Boone had made earlier to his first Soviet handler, identified only as “Igor.”
The affidavit directly quoted Boone--indicating that he had been recorded--as telling the undercover operative that he approached the Soviets because: “I needed money. Plus, well, plus I was extremely angry.”
Boone was under “severe financial and personal difficulties” when he began his spying, according to an FBI counterintelligence agent’s affidavit. His estranged wife was garnisheeing his Army sergeant’s pay, leaving him with only $250 a month, the affidavit said.
The FBI noted that in June 1990, during a security clearance background investigation, Boone acknowledged being deeply in debt, a situation that he claimed to have created purposely to cut off payments to his ex-wife. This led the Army to suspend Boone’s access to classified information and reassign him as sergeant of the guard at a U.S. military hospital in Augsburg. He retired a year later.
Boone is the latest in a series of at least eight low- or mid-level military men arrested over the last 10 years for providing U.S. secrets to the Soviets and other foreign states for relatively small amounts of money.
The series of events that made such arrests possible began in the late 1980s with the collapse of the Soviet bloc. As communist governments fell, the newly available files of their intelligence operations often revealed information about activities of Americans working for them. During a five-minute court hearing Tuesday in nearby Alexandria, Va., Boone said he understood the severity of the charges against him. He responded, “I do” and “Yes, sir,” to questions from U.S. Magistrate Welton C. Sewell.
Accompanied by federal marshals, the husky six-footer wore jeans and a Western-style yellow checked shirt and was flanked by two court-appointed lawyers, Fred Sinclair and Jim Clark, both of Alexandria.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Thomas Connolly told the court that, if convicted, Boone could face a maximum punishment of life in prison and a $250,000 fine or, depending on the gravity of his acts, the death penalty.
The death penalty could be imposed, Connolly said, if Boone were shown to have seriously compromised the nation’s early-warning system for nuclear attack, passed critical data about a major U.S. weapons system or if his actions resulted in the death of any U.S. agent.
Because Boone agreed to waive his right to preliminary and detention hearings, Sewell ordered him held without bond in the custody of U.S. marshals pending formal indictment by a federal grand jury within 30 days. It was not clear from court filings what led the FBI and Army intelligence officials to approach Boone, who left the Army in 1991 and had married a German national and worked for German computer companies.
In his meetings with the undercover FBI operative, Boone explained how and why he volunteered to spy for the Soviets. Those specific details were cited by the FBI as grounds for Boone’s arrest and search warrants in the FBI affidavit.
Boone told of being provided with a wig and mustache to use as a disguise when he returned for his second meeting with the Soviets and of being driven out of their embassy in a closed van to escape surveillance.
Boone also allegedly described smuggling documents out of the highly guarded NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade, Md., by folding up 15 to 20 pages and hiding them under the half-liner of his Army Windbreaker.
Boone said that after he arrived in Germany in 1989 he was contacted by “Igor,” who gave him a communications plan that included an emergency meeting site and signal sites.
Boone said that, between late 1988 and his retirement in 1991, he met Igor about four times a year at various locations along the Rhine River in Germany. After providing documents, he received $5,000 to $7,000 at each meeting plus a $5,000 bonus for a “joint tactical exploitation manual,” classified as “Top Secret UMBRA.”
Based on records and information provided by former foreign intelligence operatives, U.S. investigators have been able to track down and apprehend, often through sting operations, long inactive lower-level spies who sold highly sensitive information for small amounts of money.
The roster of former military personnel convicted of espionage crimes in recent years includes former Navy Chief Petty Officer Craig Lee Kunkle, former Army intelligence clerk Robert S. Lipka, former Army Sgt. Roderick James Ramsay, Army Sgt. Jeffrey S. Rondeau, former Army Sgt. Jeffrey Eugene Gregory, former soldier Kelly T. Warren, Marine Cpl. Charles Anzalone and former Army Warrant Officer James William Hall III.