Feds indict former Los Alamos scientist, wife

Couple accused of giving classified info to someone they believed was with Venezuelan government


In July 2008, the undercover agent provided Mascheroni with a list of 12 questions purportedly from Venezuelan military and scientific personnel. In response, Mascheroni delivered to the dead drop location in November 2008 a disk with a coded 132-page document on it that contained restricted data related to nuclear weapons, according to the indictment. Written by Mascheroni and edited by his wife, the document was entitled "A Deterrence Program for Venezuela" and laid out Mascheroni's nuclear weapons development program for Venezuela, the indictment states. Mascheroni stated that the information he was providing was worth millions of dollars, and his fee for producing the document was $793,000, the indictment alleges.

In June 2009, Mascheroni received from the dead drop location another list of questions, purportedly from Venezuelan officials, and $20,000 in cash from the undercover agent as a first payment. On his way to pick up these materials, he allegedly told his wife he was doing this work for the money and was not an American anymore, the indictment states.

According to the indictment, in July 2009, Mascheroni delivered to the dead drop location a disk that contained a 39-page document with answers to the second set of questions. This document also was written by Mascheroni, edited by his wife, and contained restricted data related to nuclear weapons. In the document, Mascheroni reiterated that the information he had provided was classified and was based on his knowledge of U.S. nuclear tests that he had learned while working at LANL, but that he would state the document was based on open information found on the Internet if "our relationship/alliance does not work…," the indictment states.

According to the indictment, Mascheroni and his wife met with the undercover agent at a hotel in August 2009, where Mascheroni further discussed his nuclear weapons development program for Venezuela. Several months later, FBI agents questioned Mascheroni and his wife about the classified information Mascheroni had provided to the undercover agent, among other things. Both made a series of false statements in response, the indictment alleges.

The investigation was conducted by the FBI's Albuquerque division with assistance from the Department of Energy and LANL.

"Our laws are designed to prevent restricted data from falling into the wrong hands because of the potential harm to our national security," said New Mexico U.S. Attorney Gonzales. "Employees at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who have access to restricted data are charged with safeguarding that sensitive information, even after they leave the lab. This is absolutely necessary for our national security, and it is what the public expects.

"Consistent with its responsibility to protect our national interests, LANL has cooperated fully in the investigation leading to the indictment of Dr. Mascheroni and Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni."

If convicted of all the charges in the indictment, the defendants face a potential sentence of life in prison.

Copyright 2010 by KOAT.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.