Former State Department Employee Pleads Guilty to Conspiring with Foreign Agents
For over five years, Candace Marie Claiborne received tens of thousands of dollars from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to provide agents with top secret internal information. Claiborne has plead guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by lying to law enforcement and background investigators and hiding her extensive contacts with and gifts from the PRC.
Claiborne began working at the Department of State as an Office Management Specialist in 1999. Claiborne served overseas in embassies and consulates in Baghdad, Iraq; Khartoum, Sudan; and Beijing and Shanghai, China. She maintained a top secret security clearance for her work.
In order to get and maintain this clearance, Claiborne was required to report any contacts with persons suspected of affiliation with a foreign intelligence agency as well as any gifts she received from foreign sources over a certain amount.
Despite this, Claiborne neglected to report contacts with two agents from the PRC Intelligence Service. She also failed to report that these agents provided tens of thousands of dollars in gifts and benefits to Claiborne and her close family members, according to the DOJ release.
These gifts included cash wired to Claiborne’s USAA account, Chinese New Year gifts, international travel and vacations, tuition at a Chinese fashion school, a fully furnished apartment, a monthly stipend, and numerous cash payments.
In a journal Claiborne kept, she noted she could “generate 20k a year” working with the PRC agents.
In exchange for these gifts, Claiborne provided the “spies”, as she described them, with “copies of internal documents from the State Department on topics ranging from U.S. economic strategies to visits by dignitaries between the two countries,” according to the release.
“Candace Marie Claiborne traded her integrity and non-public information of the United States government in exchange for cash and other gifts from foreign agents she knew worked for the Chinese intelligence service,” said Assistant Attorney for National Security John C. Demers. “She withheld information and lied repeatedly about these contacts. Violations of the public’s trust are an affront to our citizens and to all those who honor their oaths. With this guilty plea we are one step closer to imposing justice for these dishonorable criminal acts.”
The Honorable Judge Randolph D. Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for July 9, 2019.
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