A former FBI bomb technician and contractor will plead guilty to leaking information to the Associated Press about a thwarted terrorist plot, the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
Donald Sachtleben was an FBI employee from 1983 to 2008, when he became a contractor for the agency. In 2009, Sachtleben began a source-reporter relationship with an AP reporter that culminated with him leaking information in 2012 on a foiled attack. The statement of offense didn't name the AP, but it included the title of an article published by the news outlet about the incident.
The Justice Department came under fire earlier this year when the AP revealed that its phone records were subpoenaed as part of the government's investigation into the leak. The department defended its actions, but U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. reached out to media outlets during the height of the controversy and the department subsequently revised its policies on gathering information from reporters.
The charges in the leak case were filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, according to the Justice Department. In an unrelated case in the Indiana federal court dating back to May 2012, Sachtleben agreed to plead guilty to possessing and distributing child pornography.
Sachtleben was also charged with unauthorized possession of classified information, which, according to the statement of offense, was discovered during the child pornography investigation.
“This unauthorized and unjustifiable disclosure severely jeopardized national security and put lives at risk,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in a statement. “To keep the country safe, the department must enforce the law against such critical and dangerous leaks, while respecting the important role of the press under the department’s media guidelines and any shield law enacted by Congress.
Sachtleben is represented by Larry Mackey and James Sweeney II, partners in the Indianapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg. They declined to comment through a firm spokesman. Mackey co-chairs the firm's white collar defense practice group and Sweeney is a member of the intellectual property department and global services practice group, and is co-chair of the business and technology group, according to the firm's website.
In a statement, Sachtleben said he was "deeply sorry for my actions."
"While I never intended harm to the United States or to any individuals, I do not make excuses for myself," he said. "I understand and accept that today’s filings start the process of paying the full consequences of my misconduct, and I know that the justice system I once served so proudly will have its say."