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FBI analyst sentenced for spying

  • Story Highlights
  • Man passed classified documents to foes of Philippines president
  • Leandro Aragoncillo is ex-Marine, former aide to two U.S. vice presidents
  • Conspiracy to transmit national defense information could have brought 20 years
  • Second man sentenced Tuesday to six years in same conspiracy
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NEWARK, New Jersey (CNN) -- An FBI analyst and former vice presidential aide was sentenced Wednesday to 10 years in prison for espionage after he admitted supplying classified documents to Philippine nationals in an effort to overthrow that country's government, federal prosecutors said.

Leandro Aragoncillo, 48, a former U.S. Marine and Philippine native who worked as a military aide to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney before joining the FBI as a civilian employee, pleaded guilty to four charges of espionage in May 2006.

The plea deal spared Aragoncillo from facing the death penalty, prosecutors said.

In a sentencing hearing Wednesday morning, U.S. District Judge William H. Walls sentenced Aragoncillo to 10 years in prison for his involvement in a plot to overthrow Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In addition, he fined Aragoncillo $40,000.

Aragoncillo could have been sentenced to up to 20 years for participation in a conspiracy to transmit national defense information, prosecutors said.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, in a news release issued Wednesday, accused Aragoncillo of "betraying his Marine uniform, his adopted country and the trust bestowed on him as an FBI analyst."

Michael Ray Aquino, a co-conspirator, was sentenced by Walls on Tuesday to six years in prison. Aquino, 41, is a former Philippine national police officer who pleaded guilty in July 2006 to taking classified documents, obtained from Aragoncillo, and passing them on to Philippine officials plotting to overthrow Arroyo.

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Aragoncillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested along with Aquino on September 10, 2005.

Mark Berman, an attorney for Aquino, said that his client admits receiving documents from Aragoncillo, but maintains that he did not know the information was classified.

Prosecutors say that Filipino recipients of the classified documents included former President Joseph Estrada, who was ousted six years ago; Sen. Panfilo Lacson, an opposition politician; and former House Speaker Arnulfo Fuentebella.

"I never intended to cause harm or injury to the United States," Aragoncillo told the judge.

Aquino's attorney said his client was "relieved" that the court rejected the government's recommended sentence of 10 years in favor of a lighter penalty.

Attorneys for Aragoncillo refused to comment. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About PhilippinesGloria Macapagal-Arroyo

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