Former State Department Employee Sentenced for Illegally Accessing Confidential Passport...

Wed Jul 8, 2009 1:22pm EDT

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Former State Department Employee Sentenced for Illegally Accessing
Confidential Passport Files

WASHINGTON, July 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A former State Department
employee was sentenced today to one year of probation and ordered to pay a
$5,000 fine for illegally accessing more than 50 confidential passport
application files, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal
Division announced.

On Jan. 27, 2009, Gerald R. Lueders, 65, of Woodbridge, Va., pleaded guilty to
a one-count criminal information charging him with unauthorized computer
access.  Lueders was sentenced today by U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan Kay in the
District of Columbia.

According to court documents, from June 1974 through September 2001, Lueders
served as a Foreign Service Officer at the State Department.  From October
2001 through February 2009, Lueders worked for the State Department as a
retired annuitant, serving as a recruitment coordinator in various State
Department bureaus.  In the interim, from July 2005 to February 2008, Lueders
also worked as a watch officer within the Office of Consular Affairs. 
According to information contained in plea documents, Lueders admitted he had
access to official State Department computer databases in the regular course
of his employment, including the Passport Information Electronic Records
System (PIERS), which contains, among other data, all imaged passport
applications dating back to 1994.  The imaged passport applications on PIERS
contain, among other things, a photograph of the passport applicant as well as
certain personal information including the applicant's full name, date and
place of birth, current address, telephone numbers, parent information,
spouse's name and emergency contact information.  These confidential files are
protected by the Privacy Act of 1974, and access by State Department employees
is strictly limited to official government duties.

In pleading guilty, Lueders admitted that between July 2005 and February 2008,
he logged onto the PIERS database and viewed the passport applications of more
than 50 celebrities, actors, politicians, musicians, athletes, family members,
members of the media, business professionals, colleagues and other individuals
identified in the press.  Lueders admitted that he had no official government
reason to access and view these passport applications, but that his sole
purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle

Lueders is the third current or former State Department employee to plead
guilty in this continuing investigation.  On Sept. 22, 2008, Lawrence C.
Yontz, a former Foreign Service Officer and intelligence analyst, pleaded
guilty to unlawfully accessing nearly 200 confidential passport files. Yontz
was sentenced on Dec. 19, 2008, to 12 months of probation and ordered to
perform 50 hours of community service.  On Jan. 14, 2009, Dwayne F. Cross, a
former administrative assistant and contract specialist, pleaded guilty to
unlawfully accessing more than 150 confidential passport files.  On March 23,
2009, Cross was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to perform 100
hours of community service.

These cases are being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Armando O. Bonilla of the
Criminal Division's Public Integrity Section, headed by Section Chief William
M. Welch II.  The cases are being investigated by the State Department Office
of Inspector General.

SOURCE  U.S. Department of Justice

U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs, +1-202-514-2007, TDD,
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