Two stories follow:
1. Man, 84, Is Charged With Spying for Israel in 1980s
2. Ex-Official Linked to Abramoff Pleads Guilty
On April 1, 2008, we reported "New York Ethics Scandal Tied to International Espionage Scheme," a story involving high level, and dirty, players from both major political parties. Public Corruption is a National Problem. Ask your political candidates what they are doing about it.
1. Man, 84, Is Charged With Spying for Israel in 1980s
The Washington Post by Carrie Johnson - April 23, 2008 (page A04)
For more than two decades after he allegedly furnished an Israeli operative with secrets about U.S. nuclear initiatives and sensitive weapons programs, Ben-Ami Kadish lived unnoticed by law enforcement authorities in suburban New Jersey.
Until yesterday, that is, when Kadish, 84, was arrested at his home, taken to a federal courthouse in Manhattan and charged with four counts of conspiracy allegedly for serving as an foreign agent and allegedly for lying to the FBI about a recent telephone conversation he had with his alleged Israeli handler. Kadish, a mechanical engineer, worked at the U.S. Army's research arsenal in Dover, N.J., in the early 1980s. He routinely checked classified documents out of a library there and passed them to an unnamed Israeli official who had provided a list of what he wanted, according to a four-count criminal complaint the FBI filed yesterday.
The official photographed pages related to nuclear weaponry, the F-15 fighter jet program and the U.S. Patriot missile defense system, according to an FBI affidavit on which the complaint is based. Kadish's actions appear to have escaped detection for years even though his handler allegedly also collected classified information from Jonathan Pollard, a former Navy intelligence analyst. Pollard is serving a life sentence in a federal prison in Butner, N.C., after pleading guilty to an espionage-related crime in 1986.
"It's a fascinating case of another agent in place, another sleeper, with the very same handler," said Joseph E. diGenova, the former U.S. attorney in the District who prosecuted Pollard. "We always suspected there were other people. His tradecraft was apparently better than Pollard's." DiGenova said the espionage, which the charging documents indicate ceased in 1985, doubtless have come to the government's attention because of wiretap evidence obtained by the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan. FBI agents first interviewed Kadish last month about his activities at the Army's Picatinny Arsenal, where he worked between 1963 and 1990, according to the filing.
Kadish, a U.S. citizen who was born in Connecticut, told the agents that he "borrowed" classified documents at the urging of his handler, who encouraged him to help "protect Israel" by sharing papers that had a "direct correlation to Israel's security." He accepted only small gifts and occasional family dinners in exchange for his services, the FBI said. Kadish told Special Agent Lance Ashworth that between August 1979 and July 1985, he provided the handler with 50 to 100 documents, according to the affidavit.
The handler is identified in the criminal complaint only as "co-conspirator 1," but he has been named in Israeli publications and by a former prosecutor as Yosef Yagur. He lived in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and worked as an adviser on science affairs at the Israeli Consulate in New York. Yagur left the United States in November 1985, shortly after Pollard was charged with espionage-related offenses, and has never returned.
The handler called Kadish's home at least 22 times between July and November 1985, according to an FBI account of the phone records. The two men have since allegedly maintained contact through periodic e-mail messages and phone calls. They met in Israel four years ago, but their dealings since 1985 have been "purely social," Kadish told investigators. The handler and Kadish renewed their ties on March 20, according to the FBI affidavit, after federal agents interviewed Kadish for the first time. "Don't say anything," the handler allegedly said. "Let them say whatever they want. . . . What happened 25 years ago? You didn't remember anything."
The next day, FBI agents again questioned Kadish, who allegedly denied the call had taken place. His statements eventually became the basis for two criminal conspiracy charges that accuse him of hindering an investigation and of lying to law enforcement officials. He was also charged with conspiracy to serve as an Israeli agent and conspiracy to disclose documents related to U.S. defense programs.
A federal magistrate judge in New York released Kadish yesterday afternoon on a $300,000 personal recognizance bond secured by his home in Monroe Township, N.J. He was required to surrender his passport, and he will not be allowed to travel beyond New Jersey and New York. Bruce Goldstein, a defense lawyer for Kadish, did not return calls. David Siegel, a spokesman for the Israeli Embassy, said that "we were formally informed of the indictment by the relevant authorities," but declined to comment further. Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.
2. Ex-Official Linked to Abramoff Pleads Guilty
The Washington Post by James V. Grimaldi - April 23, 2008 (page A04)
A former high-ranking official in the Justice Department pleaded guilty yesterday to accepting thousands of dollars worth of meals and sports tickets from Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff in exchange for helping a variety of Abramoff's clients. Robert E. Coughlin II, the former deputy chief of staff of the Justice Department's criminal division, became the latest of more than a dozen public officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members to be convicted or to plead guilty in the wide-ranging federal investigation of Abramoff's activities.
As part of his plea agreement, Coughlin, 36, agreed to cooperate with investigators, making him a potentially important witness in the ongoing scrutiny of Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.). Coughlin acknowledged performing a variety of official acts for Kevin A. Ring, a key member of Abramoff's lobbying team at Greenberg Traurig and a former legislative aide to Doolittle. Coughlin and Ring are longtime friends who worked together on Capitol Hill a decade ago. Coughlin admitted violating the federal conflict-of-interest statute while he served in the department's offices of legislative affairs and public liaison between March 2001 and October 2003. According to court papers filed yesterday, he leaked department information, attended meetings and contacted his Justice colleagues to help clients of Abramoff and Ring.
Federal investigators are scrutinizing Doolittle and his wife, Julie, who owned a consulting firm that was hired by Abramoff and Greenberg Traurig to raise money for a charity Abramoff founded. Ring, while working for Abramoff, was an intermediary in the hiring of Julie Doolittle's firm, Sierra Dominion Financial Solutions Inc., people familiar with the investigation have told The Washington Post. Also unresolved is an investigation of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.), whose wife, Christine, worked for a lobbying firm that received client referrals from Abramoff. Coughlin told U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle yesterday that he already had met at least once with federal investigators.
Ring wined and dined Coughlin on 25 occasions at pricey restaurants, primarily Signatures, a downtown establishment that was partly owned by Abramoff. Coughlin also accepted from Ring 20 tickets to seven sporting events at the Verizon Center, Oriole Park at Camden Yards and FedEx Field, where Abramoff leased luxury suites; five tickets to three concerts; and one round of golf, the documents said. Prosecutors estimated the value of the gifts to be about $6,180, but Coughlin's estimate is about $4,800. Coughlin helped Ring and Team Abramoff in efforts to secure $16.3 million from a division of the Justice Department to build a jail for the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians, one of Abramoff's clients, and in the process waive a competitive-bidding requirement. Initially, Justice approved a $9 million grant.
According to the court filings, which included excerpts from e-mails, Ring often sprinkled meal invitations with requests for aid. He invited Coughlin to attend an April 2001 meeting at Justice about the Choctaw jail grant "so some of the clowns there know that I have friends, if you get my drift." After that meeting, Ring treated Coughlin and his wife to a $300 meal at Olives. When the grant was approved a year later, Ring sent Coughlin an e-mail with the subject line: "Choctaw CHA-CHING!!!!"
"Thanks is not strong enough," Ring wrote to Coughlin. "We need to celebrate this issue finally being over." Three days later, Ring bought Coughlin lunch at Signatures. At Ring's request, Coughlin also helped with an immigration matter for a student attending Abramoff's yeshiva in Silver Spring, leaked internal deliberations regarding a bill affecting a client and contacted Justice officials regarding a land dispute between Indian tribes, among other things.
Coughlin also identified Justice officials who the lobbyists could consider "friendlies," employees who would assist Abramoff in achieving results for their clients. Ring declined comment yesterday. Coughlin told prosecutors he did not recall having a substantive conversation with Abramoff, and said his main contact with the team was Ring, who has known Coughlin since 1992 and worked with him for then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), who became attorney general in 2001.
While Coughlin knew Ring was not footing the bill for gifts personally, he did not know that Ring was billing their social gatherings as lobbying expenses. "Coughlin also was unaware that Lobbyist A [Ring] held Coughlin out to be one of his most valuable lobbying contacts at DOJ," said the document, known as a statement of offense. Coughlin failed to report the gifts on his financial disclosure forms for 2001, 2002 and 2003. Twice, in March and April of 2002, Ring also discussed with Coughlin a possible job at Greenberg Traurig, the court filing said.
In 2006, Coughlin won an award from then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales for his efforts to prevent fraud and white-collar crime. Gonzales said at an awards ceremony that Coughlin deserved recognition for "exceptional dedication and effort to prevent, investigation, and prosecute fraud and white-collar crimes." Coughlin, who said he now lives in Texas, faces as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but his plea agreement indicates he is likely to face no more than 10 months and a $10,000 fine, or less, if he cooperates.