A federal jury today convicted a former CIA case officer on espionage charges related to his transmission of classified documents to an agent of China.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, in March and April 2017, Kevin Patrick Mallory, 61, who lives north of Leesburg, travelled to Shanghai and met with Michael Yang, whom he believed was working for the People’s Republic of China Intelligence Service. During an interview with FBI, Mallory stated that Yang represented himself as working for a People’s Republic of China think tank, however Mallory stated that he assessed Yang to be a Chinese intelligence officer.
“There are few crimes in this country more serious than espionage,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in a statement announcing the verdict. “This office has a long history of holding those accountable who betray their country and try and profit off of classified information. This case should send a message to anyone considering violating the public’s trust and compromising our national security by disclosing classified information. We will remain steadfast and dogged in pursuit of these challenging but critical national security cases.”
Mallory, a U.S. citizen who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, told FBI agents he travelled to Shanghai to meet with Yang and Yang’s boss. After Mallory consented to a review of a covert communications device he had been given by Yang, FBI agents viewed a message from Mallory to Yang in which Mallory stated that he could return to China in June and he could bring the remainder of the documents with him at that time. Analysis of the device, which was a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, also revealed a handwritten index describing eight different documents later determined to be classified. Four of the eight documents listed in the index were found stored on the device, with three being confirmed as containing classified information pertaining to the same U.S. government agency. One of those documents was classified “Top Secret,” while the remaining two documents were classified “Secret.” FBI analysts determined that Mallory had completed all of the steps necessary to securely transmit at least four documents via the covcom device, one of which contained unique identifiers for human sources who had helped the United States government.
“It is a sad day when an American citizen is convicted of spying on behalf of a foreign power,” stated Assistant Attorney General Demers. “This act of espionage was no isolated incident. The People’s Republic of China has made a sophisticated and concerted effort to steal our nation’s secrets. Today’s conviction demonstrates that we remain vigilant against this threat and hold accountable all those who put the United States at risk through espionage.”
Evidence presented at trial included surveillance video from a FedEx store in Leesburg where Mallory was seen scanning the eight classified documents and a handwritten table of contents onto a micro SD card. Though Mallory shredded the paper copies of the eight documents, an SD card containing those documents and table of contents was later found concealed in his house when it was searched on June 22, 2017, the date of his arrest. A recording was played at trial from June 24, 2017, on which Mallory could be heard on a call from the jail calling his family to ask them to search for the SD card.
“This trial highlights a serious threat to U.S. national security,” stated Nancy McNamara, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office. “Foreign intelligence agents are targeting former U.S. government security clearance holders in order to recruit them and steal our secrets. This case should send a message to foreign intelligence services and those caught up in their web: we are watching and we will investigate and prosecute those who willfully violate their obligations to protect national security secrets. I want to start by thanking the prosecutors of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the trial attorneys of the Justice Department and particularly the special agents, analysts and professional staff of the FBI’s Washington Field Office for their hard work.”
Mallory has held numerous positions with various government agencies and several defense contractors, including working as a covert case officer for the CIA and an intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency. As required for his various government positions, Mallory obtained a Top Secret security clearance, which was active during various assignments during his career. Mallory’s security clearance was terminated in October 2012 when he left government service.
Mallory was convicted of conspiracy to deliver, attempted delivery, delivery of defense information to aid a foreign government, and making material false statements. He faces a maximum penalty of life in prison when sentenced on Sept. 21. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.