Folsom man escapes prison in plea deal for stealing classified military information

Call him mini-Snowden.

A 50-year-old Folsom man will be spared prison time after pleading guilty today in federal district court, part of a plea agreement surrounding his removal of classified military information while he was deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Navy Reserve.

Bryan H. Nishimura’s plea will see him sentenced to two years of probation and owing a $7,500 fine. He will also have to give up any personal media containing classified material and surrender any security clearance that he might still have, now or in the future.

As for what he took, exactly? Well, that’s classified.

A 14-year veteran of the Navy Reserve, Nishimura served about 16 months in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, a signed plea agreement between the defendant and U.S. Attorney’s Office states.

In summarizing the factual basis for supporting a guilty plea, the plea agreement goes on to state that Nishimura had access to classified briefings and records in his capacity as a Navy reserve commander and regional engineer.

The agreement says that Nishimura downloaded classified material from authorized government computers and stored the information “onto his personal, unclassified electronic devices and storage media.”

When Nishumura’s tour ended around May 2008, the agreement says he returned to his Folsom home with roughly 200 megabytes of classified information, which included classified U.S. Army records and satellite imagery.

Nishimura was found out in early 2012, when he admitted what he’d done to the National Reconnaissance Office. The FBI followed up a few months later and conducted what the agreement describes as a consensual search at Nishimura’s home, recovering at least four digital recordings of classified information from his time in Afghanistan. Nishimura told investigators that he had already destroyed other personal electronic devices containing classified data.

It’s unclear why Nishimura took the information in the first place, or whether he planned to do anything with it.

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