A former State Department employee Candace Claiborne, hired under former President Bill Clinton, broke down in court on Tuesday when she was sentenced to more than three years in prison and a $40,000 fine.
While working under former President Barack Obama, Claiborne had accepted thousands of dollars in cash from Chinese intelligence agents in exchange for internal State Department documents. Prosecutors said she also tried to hide evidence of her crime from investigators after President Donald Trump took office.
The federal judge, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss, called Claiborne’s crime, “a truly grave offense, a betrayal of her employer and a betrayal of her country” before sentencing her in a Washington D.C. courtroom.
She was arrested in March 2017, and in April pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States of America. She faced a maximum jail sentence of five years in prison.
“Chinese intelligence agents convinced Candace Marie Claiborne to trade her integrity and confidential information of the United States government for cash and other gifts for herself and her family,” said Assistant Attorney General Demers said in a statement from the Department of Justice. “Claiborne withheld information and lied repeatedly about these foreign intelligence contacts. Violations of the public’s trust are an affront to our citizens and to all those who honor their oaths. With this sentencing, justice has been imposed for these dishonorable criminal acts.”
None of the information she passed to foreign intelligence was marked classified, although Claiborne had a top secret security clearance at the time.
“This is not what I had envisioned for my life. I still don’t know how I lost myself,” Claiborne said during her sentencing. She then reportedly broke down into tears.
“I want to apologize to the government … and my family for what I have done,” she said.
Prosecutors outlined some of the crimes that occurred while working for Obama’s administration in 2011.
“Over five years, the agents provided Claiborne with cash, meals, tuition payments for a Chinese fashion school, vacations, a furnished apartment, a laptop, a phone, and a monthly stipend. Some of the gifts were given directly to Claiborne and others to her close family members,” Fox News reported. “In her journal, she noted that working for one of the agents could ‘Generate 20k in 1 year,’ the Justice Department said. In an email between Claiborne and a Chinese agent, the agent said: ‘I will help your kids and also you make money in China.'”
“Sounds like a plan!” Claiborne’s replied.
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“Claiborne, who confided to a co-conspirator that the PRC agents were ‘spies,’ willfully misled State Department background investigators and FBI investigators about her contacts with those agents, the plea documents state. After the State Department and FBI investigators contacted her, Claiborne also instructed her co-conspirators to delete evidence connecting her to the PRC agents,” the Department of Justice said in their statement on the ruling.
The Horn editorial team