Pop quiz: You’re a State Department employee and need a quick break from your daily grind. Do you:
(A) Refresh Drudge Report for the 15th time?
(B) Toy around with your fantasy football team, because it was kind of humiliating when the 11-year-old in your league beat you for the third Sunday in a row?
(C) Casually check out the passport applications of a few friends, neighbors, and assorted celebrities?
For Dwayne Cross, the clear answer was apparently C. The State Department administrative assistant-turned-contractor pleaded guilty today to charges that between 2002 and 2007, he had illegally accessed more than 150 passport applications of “celebrities, actors, musicians, comedians, models, politicians, athletes, members of the media, family members, friends, associates and other individuals.”
According to the filing today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Cross did not steal or sell any of the information. The 41-year-old's “sole purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle curiosity,” it states.
Cross, who is scheduled to be sentenced in March, is the second former State Department employee to plead guilty to illegally peeking at passport information. In December, former Foreign Service Officer Lawrence Yontz was sentenced to 12 months of probation and 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to having accessed hundreds of passport files.
The Justice Department is still investigating the abuse of passport access, which appears to have been a widespread problem at Foggy Bottom. An internal investigation at State, for instance, found that the passports of 127 celebrities had been accessed a total of 4,148 times over six years.