Former Indianapolis-based FBI agent to plead guilty in terror plot leak
A former FBI agent in Indianapolis who already admitted to distributing child porn will now also plead guilty to giving information about a disrupted terrorist plot to a national media reporter.
Donald Sachtleben, a former bomb technician 13 Investigates interviewed about an unrelated story in 2008, has signed plea agreements in both cases.
The 55-year-old Carmel man was arrested last year on the child porn charges. Federal investigators say he leaked the national defense information about the terror plot just days before his arrest.
The plea agreements call for Sachtleben to be sentenced to a total of 140 months of incarceration, including a 43-month prison term for the national security offenses and a consecutive 97-month term for the child pornography charges.
More information from US Attorney Joe Hogsett:
National Security Case:
According to a criminal information filed today, on May 2, 2012, nine days before Sachtleben was arrested in Indiana on child pornography charges, Sachtleben knowingly and willfully disclosed national defense information to a reporter for a national news organization not entitled to receive it. The charging document alleges that Sachtleben had reason to believe that this information could be used to the injury of the United States and to the advantage of a foreign nation. The criminal information also charges him with willfully retaining documents relating to the national defense without authorization.
Sachtleben worked for the FBI from 1983 through 2008. During his career, he was a Special Agent Bomb Technician and was assigned to work on many major cases involving terrorist attacks. In his work as an FBI employee, Sachtleben held a Top Secret security clearance and had regular access to classified and national defense information relating to the FBI's activities, as well as the activities of other members of the U.S. intelligence community.
In 2008, Sachtleben retired from the FBI and was rehired as a contractor. Because of his official responsibilities, he maintained his Top Secret security clearance as an FBI contractor. As a result, he continued to have regular access to classified and national defense information relating to the FBI's activities, as well as the activities of other members of the U.S. intelligence community. As a contractor, he routinely visited the FBI Lab in Quantico, Va.
One of the criminal charges involves Sachtleben's contacts with the reporter relating to the disruption of a plot to conduct a suicide bomb attack on a U.S.-bound airliner by the Yemen-based terrorist organization Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the recovery by the United States of a bomb in connection with that plot. As a result of Sachtleben's disclosure of national defense information to the reporter, the national security of the United States was compromised, a significant international intelligence operation was placed in jeopardy, and lives were put at risk.
Sachtleben was identified as a suspect in the case of this unauthorized disclosure only after toll records for phone numbers related to the reporter were obtained through a subpoena and compared to other evidence collected during the leak investigation. This allowed investigators to obtain a search warrant authorizing a more exhaustive search of Sachtleben's cell phone, computer, and other electronic media, which were in the possession of federal investigators due to the child pornography investigation.
Sachtleben was employed as an FBI contractor until on or about May 11, 2012. The following day, he was arrested in Indiana and charged by complaint with the federal child pornography charges.
Child Pornography Case:
According to a criminal complaint filed in Indiana in May 2012, federal and state investigators became aware of an individual trading images of child pornography online in September 2010. An extensive investigation into that individual led to the arrest of a defendant in Illinois in January 2012. Upon arrest, a forensic search of that defendant's computer equipment and email accounts allegedly revealed that he had been actively trading the explicit materials online with numerous other people.
Based on that information, law enforcement traced the alleged online activity to Sachtleben's home in Carmel. After conducting several days of surveillance, a search warrant was executed on May 11, 2012, by law enforcement officers from the Indiana State Police and the FBI Cyber Crime Task Force. Sachtleben was charged in the Southern District of Indiana with possession and distribution of child pornography.
The complaint alleges that an initial forensic examination of Sachtleben's laptop computer revealed the presence of approximately 30 images and video files containing child pornography. It is alleged that a number of files identified during this initial search matched those that had been found in the course of investigating the Illinois defendant. The complaint further alleges that the laptop's hard drive contained references to other files known to have been in the possession of the Illinois defendant.
A criminal complaint and a criminal information are only charges and are not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.