The curious case of Abraham Lesnik, which I wrote about previously here and here, has ended with the ex-Boeing scientist being sentenced to three years probation, according to Lesnik's attorney. Lesnik was accused of using a thumb drive to bring about 2000 classified documents to his home.
The government wound up asking for a four-year prison term and had earlier threatened to seek more than five years. According to Lesnik's lawyer, Marc Harris, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said at the sentencing hearing today that she was convinced that the physics expert neither transmitted nor intended to transmit the information he took home. Lesnik asserted he took the materials, some of them marked "top secret," simply to make it easier to work at home.
Harris says the prosecutor, Daniel Goodman, insisted that the government's briefs in the case were not intended to suggest that Lesnik made or planned an attempt to disclose the information.
Lesnik probably benefitted from his case being assigned to Judge Cooper, who saw first-hand the relatively lenient sentences the government agreed to in cases involving arguably far more serious breaches of the rules for handling classified information. I have in mind the cases involving senior FBI agent J.J. Smith and Katrina Leung, a longtime informant who later became a suspected double agent for China. Judge Cooper became a nightmare for the government when she dismissed the Leung case, citing a constitutional violation. That ruling led to the rather weak sentence Leung received. So, not the judge a prosecutor, especially on this kind of case, would want to draw.
Lesnik probably also benefitted from his attorneys' unusually exhaustive research into prior criminal cases involving mishandling of classified information.
I'm told press turnout for the hearing, in downtown Los Angeles, consisted of the Daily Journal legal newspaper and the City News Service, a local wire service. Apparently the Los Angeles Times, whose parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy today, couldn't be bothered to show up, nor could the national wire services or the national newspapers (if any still lay claim to that title).