Philippines Spies Hacking FBI Systems Videos
July 18, 2007 Update
Former Marine and FBI Analyst Sentenced to 10 Years
For Transferring Classified Information to Assist in Overthrow of Philippine Government
In Short: Searched FBI computers for information on Philippines, which was outside his work duties. Downloaded documents from FBI computers onto disk, put disk in bag and took home. Emailed classified documents to contacts in Philippines.
Christopher J. Christie
United States Attorney
District of New Jersey
May 4 , 2006
Former Marine and FBI Analyst Pleads Guilty to Espionage; Admits Transferring Classified Information to Assist in Overthrow of Philippines Government
NEWARK, N.J. – A former Marine who worked at times under two administrations in the Office of the Vice President of the United States pleaded guilty today to espionage and other charges, admitting that he took and transferred classified information, including national defense documents, to senior political and government officials of the Republic of the Philippines in an attempt to destabilize and overthrow that country’s government, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.
Leandro Aragoncillo, 47, admitted that he regularly transferred to his Philippine contacts national security documents classified as Secret, and that the information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation. He also admitted traveling to the Philippines in January 2001 to meet his co-conspirators, including during a visit to the Malacanang Palace, the official residence of the president of the Philippines.
Aragoncillo also admitted that some of the classified information he removed from of the Office of the Vice President (OVP) between approximately October 2000 and February 2002 included information marked Top Secret that related to terrorist threats to United States government interests in the Republic of the Philippines (ROP).
Aragoncillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in the Philippines and most recently of Woodbury, N.J., was an FBI intelligence analyst at Fort Monmouth, N.J. at the time of his arrest on Sept. 10, 2005. He admitted today that his espionage activity continued during his time as an FBI analyst.
“Aragoncillo took the most solemn of oaths as a U.S. Marine and FBI analyst to protect his country and its security,” said Christie. “His betrayal is profound and a disservice to his country and all the men and women in military and security positions around the globe who take the oath and serve with honor and integrity.”
Also arrested last September was Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippines National Police official, who was among those who Aragoncillo is alleged to have passed classified information. Aragoncillo specifically identified Aquino today as a co-conspirator in the transfer of classified documents and information.
Aquino, who remains in federal custody, was indicted on Oct. 6, 2005 and charged with conspiring in the passing of classified information to current and former officials in the Philippines.
Aquino awaits trial. No date has been scheduled for Aquino’s trial due to extensive pretrial discovery.
Aragoncillo pleaded guilty to four counts of an Indictment returned this morning by a federal grand jury. Count One charged him with Conspiracy to Transmit National Defense Information; Count Two charged him with Transmission of National Defense Information. The maximum penalty for both of those crimes is death under certain circumstances – including the transfer of secrets that result in the death of an intelligence source – that are not present in the case of Aragoncillo. Consequently, the maximum statutory penalty on those counts for Aragoncillo is any term of years up to life in prison.
Count Three charges Aragoncillo with Unlawful Retention of National Defense Information, and Count Four charges him with Unlawful Use of a Government Computer, both of which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
In the Indictment and during his guilty plea before U.S. District Judge William H. Walls, Aragoncillo’s co-conspirators were identified as Executive Branch Official #1, a senior member of the executive branch of the ROP from June 1998 through January 2001; Senator #1, who has served in the Philippine Senate since June 2001 and was formerly the head of the Philippines National Police; Representative #1, who served in the Philippines House of Representatives between about 1998 and 2001 and again in 2004; Representative #2, who served in the Philippines House of Representatives between 1992 and 2001, and again in 2004; Mayor #1, who is a mayor of one of the municipalities located near Metro Manila; and Aquino.
Aragoncillo admitted his contacts began on July 27, 2000, when a delegation of public officials from the Philippines – including Executive Branch Official #1 and Representative #1 – met with the President of the United States at the White House. Aragoncillo was then a staff assistant to the Vice President’s Military Advisors and possessed a Top Secret security clearance.
Aragoncillo said that Representative #1 contacted him in or about October 2000, and requested information about the U.S. government’s views about the Philippines. Aragoncillo stated that Representative #1 appealed to his sense of loyalty to the Philippines and its people in requesting the information. As a result of Representative #1's appeals, Aragoncillo agreed to begin supplying Representative #1 with national security-classified documents and information.
From that time forward, and continuing through his service with the OVP and the FBI, Aragoncillo admitted to gathering and providing classified documents and information to Executive Official #1, Senator #1, and the other co-conspirators.
Aragoncillo also admitted that in telephone, e-mail and text message exchanges with Senator #1, he advised that the information he was transferring would be useful in assisting Senator #1 and his associates in their attempts to destabilize and overthrow the president and government of the Philippines. In one telephone conversation, for example, Aragoncillo admitted that he told Senator #1 that the documents were like a “blueprint” on how to engineer a coup. In response, Aragoncillo said that Senator #1 told him that the document was “a good reference” and that Senator #1 “would print it because we are preparing something like this.”
Among other specific admissions by Aragoncillo:
• That on Jan. 12, 2001, he met Executive Branch Official #1 at the Malacanang Palace.
• That on June 1, 2001, he gathered classified “Situation Reports” from the OVP, and transmitted them to Representative #1.
• That on April 17, 2001, and Jan. 29 and Feb. 6, 2002, he gathered documents classified “Top Secret” and “Secret,” respectively, containing national defense information relating to terrorist threats to U.S. government interests in the ROP and exercises involving the U.S. military in the Philippines.
• That he sought positions with the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency, to gain access to classified documents and information that would be useful to his co-conspirators.
• That beginning in September 2004, he began gathering classified documents from FBI
computers located at Fort Monmouth relating to the ROP, and thereafter he transmitted classified documents and information to his co-conspirators until his arrest on September 10, 2005.
• That from approximately January to April 2005, he transmitted by e-mail approximately 30 documents classified “Secret” and “Confidential” to Senator #1 and Aquino, including documents containing national defense information.
• That on Feb. 28 and Aug. 4, 2005, and on other occasions, he transmitted documents to his contacts containing classified information about confidential intelligence sources of the U.S. government.
• That approximately two weeks before his arrest, on Aug. 25, 2005, he sought to return to his position as a Staff Assistant in the OVP.
Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leslie Wiser, Jr., in Newark, for their investigation of the espionage case.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karl H. Buch and Michael Buchanan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division, and Clifford I. Rones, Senior Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.
Philippine trio named in spy plot
Ex-president, 2 others accused of being conspirators at Newark hearing
4Law - The former Philippines president and two other prominent officials were identified yesterday as alleged conspirators in a plot to get U.S. intelligence from a suspected spy who worked at the FBI and the White House.
Ousted Philippines President Joseph Estrada and Sen. Panfilio Lacson have previously acknowledged contact with defendants in the case. But during a hearing in Newark, a government prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl Buch, for the first time publicly named them and former Philippines Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella as alleged participants in the plot.
Christopher J. Christie
United States Attorney
District of New Jersey
October 6 , 2005
Former Philippines National Police Official Indicted
Former Philippines National Police official Michael Ray Aquino was indicted today for conspiring with a former FBI intelligence analyst in the passing of classified information to current and former officials in the Philippines, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie announced.
The Indictment charges Michael Ray Aquino, 39, with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, and one count of acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign official, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
Aquino, a Filipino national in the United States on an expired visa, was arrested on a criminal complaint at his residence in Queens, N.Y. on Sept. 10. Aquino remains in federal custody at the Passaic County Jail. Also arrested that day was Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, of Woodbury in Gloucester County, New Jersey, an FBI analyst at Fort Monmouth Information Technology Center (FMITC) in Monmouth County since July 2004. Aragoncillo is being held at the Hudson County Jail.
Aquino will not be appearing in court today. An arraignment on the Indictment will likely take place sometime in the next two weeks before a U.S. District Judge.
The Indictment, which closely mirrors the accusations contained in the criminal complaint, accuses Aquino of conspiring to share information received from an FBI intelligence analyst with current and former high-ranking officials of the Philippines. Neither the complaint nor today's Indictment specifically identify those officials.
The FBI analyst worked at the FMITC and used an FBI database to search, download and print more than 150 classified documents and other sensitive information concerning the Philippines, according to the Indictment. The analyst, identified in the Indictment only by his initials, transmitted the information to Aquino and other top former and current officials in the Philippines.
The classifified materials were allegedly transmitted by the FBI analyst to Aquino and others via his personal, non-government email accounts using computers at FMITC and his home. The FBI analyst, Aquino, the three unidentified Filipino public officials and others communicated with one another using e-mail, telephone and text messages, according to the Indictment.
Aquino served as the Deputy Director of the Philippines National Police - Intelligence Group, and a Senior Superintendent of the now-disbanded Philippines Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.
Aquino was arrested in New York by Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for overstaying a tourist visa issued to Aquino on July 7, 2001. Following the arrest, the now-former FBI analyst appeared at ICE offices in New York and identified himself to agents as an FBI employee and friend of Aquino, according to the criminal complaint. He subsequently called an ICE agent to inquire on the status of the investigation, prompting an ICE agent to notify the FBI about the FBI analyst's inquiries.
The FBI, among other things, then commenced an audit of the analyst's use of the FBI database, revealing that he had conducted extensive unauthorized searches concerning the Philippines and either printed or downloaded classified documents.
Additional records obtained from Yahoo! and Hotmail revealed that as early as January 2005 and continuing into this September, the analyst used his Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts to transmit classified documents and information to individuals in the Philippines, including the current and former public officials in the Philippines referenced above.
Despite indictment, the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The case is being prosecuted by Stuart Rabner, Chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division in Newark, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Karl H. Buch.
Christopher J. Christie
United States Attorney
District of New Jersey
September 12 , 2005
FBI Intelligence Analyst Arrested, Accused of Passing Classified Information; Former Philippines National Police Official Also Charged
An FBI intelligence analyst at Fort Monmouth and a former official with the Philippines National Police were arrested Saturday morning, charged in a federal criminal complaint with acting as unregistered agents of a foreign official and passing classified information to that official and others in the Republic of the Philippines, U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie and FBI Special Agent in Charge Leslie Wiser, Jr. announced.
Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, a former U.S. Marine, was arrested by Special Agents of the FBI at his home in Woodbury, Gloucester County, New Jersey. Michael Ray Aquino, 39, a Filipino national in the United States on an expired visa, was arrested at his residence in Queens, N.Y.
Both defendants made initial appearances at approximately 11 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patty Shwartz. Both were ordered detained pending trial.
"The arrests of Leandro Aragoncillo and Michael Ray Aquino affirm the FBI's commitment to apprehending those who would seek to reveal classified information to foreign nationals," Wiser said.
"Crimes like these strike at the heart of our national security," said Christie. "These defendants will face the full weight of federal prosecution."
The criminal complaint alleges that Aragoncillo, an FBI intelligence analyst since July 2004 at the Fort Monmouth Information Technology Center, used an FBI database to search, download and print classified documents concerning the Philippines.
Using personal Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts, Aragoncillo allegedly sent email messages, often with classified documents attached, to individuals in the Philippines, including current and former public officials of the Philippines. Those individuals are identified in the criminal complaint as Public Official #1, a former high-level public official; Public Official #2, a current high-level public official; and Public Official #3, a second current high-level public official.
The FBI database accessed by Aragoncillo contained, among other things, classified information and documents from the FBI, and other federal departments. Classified information is material that has been determined to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national security and foreign relations. The three levels of classification are "Top Secret," "Secret" and "Confidential."
The FBI began a field investigation of Aragoncillo in late July 2005. On March 7, 2005, Aquino was arrested in New York by Special Agents of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for overstaying a tourist visa issued to Aquino on July 7, 2001. Following the arrest, Aragoncillo appeared at ICE offices in New York and identified himself to agents as an FBI employee and friend of Aquino. He subsequently called an ICE agent to inquire on the status of the investigation, prompting an ICE agent to notify the FBI about Aragoncillo's inquiries.
The FBI, among other things, then commenced an audit of Aragoncillo's use of the FBI database, revealing that he had conducted extensive unauthorized searches concerning the Philippines. The audit revealed that from between about May 1 and Aug. 15, 2005, Aragoncillo either printed or downloaded 101 classified documents concerning the Philippines, of which 37 were classified at the "Secret" level.
Additional records obtained from Yahoo! and Hotmail revealed that as early as January 2005 and continuing into this September, Aragoncillo used his Yahoo! and Hotmail accounts to transmit classified documents and information to individuals in the Philippines, including the current and former public officials in the Philippines specifically referenced above.
Aquino served as a the Deputy Director of the Philippines National Police - Intelligence Group, and a Senior Superintendent of the now-disbanded Philippines Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Task Force.
The defendants are both charged with one count of conspiracy, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, and one count of acting as an unregistered agent subject to the direction of a foreign official, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Aragoncillo is also charged with one count of the unauthorized use of a government computer to obtain and transmit classified information to persons not entitled to receive that information, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
Despite being charged in a criminal complaint, the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Christie credited Special Agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leslie Wiser, Jr., in Newark, with the investigation leading to the arrests of the defendants.
The case is being prosecuted by Stuart Rabner, Chief of the U.S. Attorney's Office Criminal Division in Newark, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karl H. Buch, Kevin O'Dowd and Erez Liebermann, all of the Criminal Division.
VP 'SPY' ON AIR FORCE 1
October 7, 2005 -- WASHINGTON — A suspected White House spy helped plan activities for two vice presidents — and even got to ride on Air Force One, it was disclosed yesterday. New details about Leandro Aragoncillo's access to the nation's secrets emerged as his alleged co-conspirator was indicted on charges of passing stolen documents to cohorts in the Philippines, who were believed to be trying to overthrow the country's president, Gloria Arroyo. Aragoncillo, 46, reportedly admitted stealing classified documents from a White House computer while he was in the Marines. He earlier had been charged with stealing secrets from an FBI computer while working as an analyst at Fort Monmouth, N.J. after leaving the military. Aragoncillo, a naturalized citizen from the Philippines who spent 21 years in the Marines, worked in the White House from 1999 to 2001, serving Vice President Al Gore and then Vice President Dick Cheney as a staff assistant."He worked with advisers in planning vice-presidential meetings and trips, and he would conduct security briefings and debriefings," a Marine spokeswoman, Maj. Gabrielle Chapin, said.Aragoncillo was only a gunnery sergeant, but had top security clearance, passing periodic lie-detector tests. The clearance enabled him to access White House computers — and ride on the president's plane. He was put in charge of liaison with Philippine government officials during the July 2000 U.S. visit of former President Joseph Estrada. Estrada offered small amounts of money and appealed to Aragoncillo's ethnic loyalty to recruit the alleged spy, who was $500,000 in debt, ABC News reported. Yesterday, his alleged accomplice, a former Filipino police official named Michael Ray Aquino, was indicted in Newark on charges of transferring secrets stolen by Aragoncillo from the FBI computer. His lawyer, Mark Berman said his client, "had no reason to know that the information the government laid out in the indictment was classified." "Aragoncillo is believed to be cooperating with the feds and negotiating a plea bargain. Authorities are interviewing 35 present and former White House employees and believe he also downloaded files involving a country other than the Philippines, ABC said. Aragoncillo's Deptford, N.J., neighbors are stunned by the allegations. "He's a nice person," said Jennifer Gillen, 34. "I just don't know what to believe." (New York Post)
Ex-Marine Allegedly Sent Files to Philippine Opposition - Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, who unsuccessfully challenged Arroyo in the presidential election last year, said in an interview that he had received e-mails from Aquino. Lacson, a retired national police chief, was the head of a special organized crime task force, and Aquino was a senior aide on that force.Lacson said some of the e-mails Aquino sent were widely distributed to current and former members of the Philippine national police force while others were personal communications. He added that he did not consider the information to be sensitive intelligence, calling it nothing unusual."This was classified because it would embarrass the United States. There are opinions provided by certain officials of the United States government," he explained.Although he said he had no direct knowledge of the U.S. investigation, Lacson said he expected he would be named in the United States as one of the three Philippine officials to be sent material by Aragoncillo and Aquino.( Washington Post)