According to the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico (1), they planned to pass it along to an individual they believed was an official of the Venezuelan government.
Whether the unnamed individual was, in fact, a Venezuelan or an FBI agent engaged in a sting operation is not revealed. However, the press release states that no one connected to the Venezuelan government was suspected of actually receiving or seeking the restricted data.
Dr. Mascheroni, born in Argentina but a naturalized citizen, worked at Los Alamos between 1979 and 1988 as a scientist. He has a security clearance that allowed him access to restricted data. Mrs. Madcheroni worked at Los Alamos between 1981 and 2010 as a technical writer and editor and had a similar security clearance.
The nature of the restricted data that the Mascheronis tried to steal has not been revealed. However, it was very likely data related to the production of nuclear weapons or else the production of special nuclear material for the production of nuclear energy.
Mascheroni Confesses to Crimes
Dr. Mascheroni has admitted “that in November 2008 and July 2009, he unlawfully communicated Restricted Data to another individual with reason to believe that the data would be utilized to secure an advantage to Venezuela. He also admitted unlawfully converting Department of Energy information to his own use and selling the information in November 2008 and July 2009, and failing to deliver classified information relating to the United States’ national defense to appropriate authorities and instead unlawfully retaining the information in his home. Finally, Mascheroni admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when he was interviewed in October 2009.” (1)
According to the Washington Times (2), Mascheroni faces up to five and a half years in prison and ten years of supervised release.
Mrs. Mascheroni has also confessed to a number of crimes, including, “conspiracy, and counts 16 through 22, charging her with making false statements. She also pleaded guilty to a felony indictment charging her with conspiracy to communicate Restricted Data. Roxby Mascheroni admitted that between October 2007 and October 2009, she conspired with Mascheroni to convey Restricted Data belonging to the United States to another person with reason to believe that the information would be used to secure an advantage to Venezuela. She also admitted making materially false statements to the FBI when she was interviewed in October 2009.”
She has already been sentenced to a year and a day in prison.
Shades of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
The Mascheroni case brings to mind the World War II-era case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (3), who were members of the Communist Party and part of a spy ring that disseminated nuclear secrets from the Manhattan Project to the Soviet Union.
The secrets were stolen by Ethel Rosenberg’s brother, Sgt. David Greenglass, who worked as a machinist at the project. The classified data was in turn handed off to Harry Gold, a Swiss-born courier, who passed them along to Anatoly A. Yakovlev, the Soviet Union’s vice-consul in New York City.
The Rosenberg ring was finally unmasked in 1950. While Greenglass and Gold received prison sentences, both Rosenbergs were sentenced to death.
The executions, which took place on June 19, 1953, were a matter of some controversy at the time.
For decades, many alleged that the Rosenbergs were innocent, having been persecuted as part of the McCarthy-era witch hunts. However, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the opening of KGB records, their guilt was confirmed.