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SAN DIEGO COUNTY DIGEST

Local News in Brief : San Diego

January 07, 1988

A federal appeals court Wednesday upheld the theft convictions of a former Navy radioman who tried to sell stolen cryptographic code cards back to a federal agent.

Michael Tobias, 21 at the time of the 1984 incident, is serving a 20-year prison term for seven counts of stealing federal property.

Tobias tried to sell the top-secret cards to a federal agent because his "sense of patriotism" kept him from going through with the sale of the cards to a foreign government.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in San Francisco, rejected Tobias' contentions that grand jury records and results of electronic surveillance were not properly disclosed to the defense.

Tobias, of San Diego, was serving on the tank landing ship Peoria at the time of the theft.

Tobias' brother, Bruce Tobias; nephew, Frank Xavier Pizzo, and friend, Dale Irene, pleaded guilty to lesser charges for their roles in the scheme. The three accomplices were civilians.

Tobias and the others claimed that foreign agents were offering to pay $100,000 for the cards but as a matter of patriotism they would sell them back to the United States for $1,000.

The defense contended that the four were so intoxicated by a combination of marijuana, alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine at the time that they could not form the necessary intent to carry off such a scheme.

Tobias is in state prison at Shelton, Wash., under special contract with federal authorities, according to Adams.

After pleading guilty, Pizzo was sentenced to 10 years in prison, Irene to two years in prison and Bruce Tobias to five years' probation.

All but two of the dozen code cards were recovered by FBI agents, according to court documents.

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