Marine reservist pleads guilty to leaking intelligence documents
A Marine gunnery sergeant pleaded guilty Thursday to leaking secret intelligence information to a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department detective for use by an anti-terrorism task force.
Eric. L. Froboese, an intelligence specialist, admitted giving documents to Marine Col. Larry Richards in 2003 and 2004 even though he knew Richards did not have the “need-to-know” clearance to get them.
In his job as a sheriff’s detective, Richards, a Marine reservist, was a co-founder of the Los Angeles Terrorism Early Warning Group. Froboese, also a reservist, is a sheet-metal worker in civilian life.
Froboese could face 10 years in prison and a dishonorable discharge. Under a plea agreement with military prosecutors, his sentencing could be delayed up to a year while he provides information against other Marines in the case, including Richards.
Military officials have not disclosed whether Richards, who is on paid leave from the Sheriff’s Department, will be recalled to active duty and charged.
Froboese admitted giving information to Richards while being stationed at Camp Pendleton and while in Kuwait and Iraq. Much of the time, Richards was not on active duty with the Marines and was working instead with the anti-terrorism group, which is based in Norwalk.
During a three-hour court-martial hearing at Camp Pendleton, the prosecution, defense and the judge, Lt. Col. Peter Rubin, did not disclose what information was contained in the documents. The only agency mentioned as having had information leaked to Richards was the Central Intelligence Agency.
Rubin issued a gag order to all sides.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a Freedom of Information Act request to determine if the intelligence included spying on civilians, particularly Southern California Muslims and their mosques. Formed in 1996, the Terrorism Early Warning Group was meant to bring together intelligence analysts from local, state and federal agencies. It remains unclear why the group, even after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, apparently did not have access to intelligence collected by other agencies.
Froboese answered Rubin’s questions in a clear, unwavering voice. Rubin read portions of the plea agreement, which reporters were not allowed to see.
In the agreement, Froboese said he gave the documents to Richards for “law enforcement purposes to fight terrorism.” In exchange for pleading guilty to charges from 2003 to mid-2004, prosecutors dropped charges from mid-2004 through 2006.