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Would-Be Spy Given Life in Prison

Ex-Air Force sergeant apologizes but says the penalty is 'excessive.'

March 21, 2003|From Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A retired Air Force master sergeant was sentenced to life in prison without parole Thursday for offering to sell U.S. intelligence secrets to Iraq's Saddam Hussein and the Chinese government.

U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee approved the sentence, which was brokered by Brian Patrick Regan's lawyers and prosecutors. As part of the agreement, the government promised not to prosecute Regan's wife, Anette, and allowed her to keep a portion of Regan's military pension.

Regan also agreed to tell the government about any classified information he may have given to other people or countries, and to submit to polygraph tests. His wife agreed to cooperate.

Regan, 40, was convicted last month on two attempted espionage counts and a single charge of gathering national defense information. He was acquitted of attempting to spy for Libya.

Standing before the judge in a green prison jumpsuit, Regan apologized but said the penalty was too harsh.

"I feel a life sentence is excessive in my case," Regan said. "I never harmed anyone. I'm entering into this to protect my family."

Convicted spies Robert Philip Hanssen and Aldrich H. Ames, sentenced to life in prison without parole, were blamed for the deaths of at least 12 U.S. agents.

The judge said Regan still warranted a stiff sentence. "You betrayed your country's trust," Lee said. "There's no doubt that your attempted espionage put our nation's intelligence-gathering at risk. You have joined the list of infamous spies."

U.S. Atty. Paul J. McNulty said it was important to impose a harsh sentence on someone who tried to sell sensitive information to an Iraqi government now at war with America. He said Regan committed "acts of betrayal and greed."

Regan avoided the death penalty when the jury decided that in attempting to spy for Iraq he did not offer documents concerning nuclear weapons, military satellites or war plans.

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