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Former FBI agent pleads guilty in national security leak, child porn cases

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A former FBI agent from Carmel will plead guilty in a child pornography case and a separate case in which he’s accused of compromising national security.

Donald Sachtleben, a former FBI bomb technician and government contractor, signed plea agreements in both cases. The documents were filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Charges in the national security case were filed Monday; the child pornography charges were filed in May 2012.

In the latter case, Sachtleben was charged after investigators traced child pornography to his home computer. The criminal complaint said investigators found about 30 images on his laptop. Prosecutors said he was trading the images with other people online. He was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. In April, Fox 59 learned he settled on a plea deal.

Nine days before his arrest in the child pornography case, prosecutors said Sachtleben gave up privileged national defense information to a reporter. He’s accused of keeping documents relating to national defense without authoritization.

Sachtleben worked for the FBI from 1983 through 2008. He was a special bomb technician assigned to work on several major cases involving terrorist attacks. This position gave him access to classified documents and top secret security clearance. He retired from the FBI in 2008, but was rehired as a contractor. He retained his security clearance in the contracting job.

According to prosecutors, Sachtleben provided a reporter with information relating to the disruption of a plot to attack a U.S.-bound airliner by Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Phone records allowed investigators to identify Sachtleben as the source of the leaked information; prosecutors said the sensitive information put national security at risk.

Sachtleben released the following statement in response to the plea agreements:

“I am deeply sorry for my actions. While I never intended harm to the United States or to any individuals, I do not make excuses for myself. I understand and accept that today’s filings start the process of paying the full consequences of my misconduct, and I know that the justice system I once served so proudly will have its say.”

Under the terms of the plea deal, Sachtleben would spend about 12 years in prison. He would serve both sentences (43 months in the national defense case and 97 months in the child pornography case) consecutively. The plea agreement must be approved in federal court.