LAS VEGAS — An FBI security expert who had access to informant identities and witness lists has been charged with selling classified files to organized crime figures and others under investigation.
James J. Hill, an Air Force veteran and security analyst in the FBI’s Las Vegas office, was paid $25,000 for files from 1999 until last week, according to a complaint filed by the bureau in federal court in New York.
He was arrested Friday in Las Vegas after allegedly faxing classified information drawn from computer files to a private investigator in New York. The FBI said the private investigator was also arrested, but didn’t release a name.
The FBI said it is still assessing the damage.
Hill’s attorney, Barry Levinson, said another former agent used Hill to obtain the files and sell them. "My guy is the fall guy," he said.
Hill, 51, was charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy and the theft and sale of top-secret FBI information. A federal judge Wednesday moved Hill’s detention hearing to U.S. District Court in New York, where the charges were filed. No date was set.
Hill remains in federal custody without bail. He has been placed on administrative leave since his arrest.
The accusations follow a series of embarrassments for the FBI, including the arrest in February of FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who is accused of spying for Moscow; the disclosure that more than 4,000 FBI documents had been withheld from lawyers for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh; and the botched investigation last year of former nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee.
In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted a hearing on the agency Wednesday as Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a broad internal review of the FBI, aiming to reform the bureau.
According to the latest complaint, Hill had security clearances and access to national security data, confidential informant identities, witness lists and electronic surveillance information. An FBI official in New York said the case involves criminal files and not national security secrets.
The complaint accuses Hill of selling classified FBI records relating to organized crime, white-collar investigations and immigrant smuggling.
Hill worked in the Las Vegas office from 1991 to 1996, when he resigned and spent two months training as an identification technician with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the police department and FBI said.
Hill returned to the FBI in 1997.
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