Pubdate: Thu, 16 Jan 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press
Bookmark: (Corruption - United States)


ATLANTA -- A federal judge has sentenced a former Drug Enforcement
Administration analyst to one year in prison for selling restricted
government information to a London newspaper.

Jonathan Clay Randel, 37, of Roswell, pleaded guilty in June to
leaking information about British businessman Michael Ashcroft to The
Times in 1999. He was sentenced Jan. 9 and remains free on bond.

In a plea agreement, Randel admitted supplying information from DEA
data banks to a British television correspondent who freelanced for
The Times. Federal prosecutors said Randel sold the information for

Randel's attorney, Steve Sadow of Atlanta, has appealed the sentence.
He said his client didn't make any money after expenses, which
included taking time off from work and flying to London.

If that can be proved, it would reduce the time, if any, Randel would
spend in jail, he said.

"What has always concerned us is the severity of the government's
prosecution in light of the fact that authorized leaks occur all the
time when they're in the government's interest," Sadow said Thursday.

The information was leaked in 1999, when the Times published stories
about huge donations Ashcroft made to the Conservative Party from a
business in Belize.

The newspaper later settled a libel suit with Ashcroft and published a
statement saying none of his businesses in Belize were suspected of
having ties to drug dealing.

The DEA did not disclose what information Randel sold, although the
agency said he had access to computer databases containing secret
information about suspected drug traffickers.

U.S. Attorney William S. Duffey Jr. said the case is a warning to
government workers, especially law enforcement agents, who provide
sensitive, even unclassified, information to anyone, including
journalists, outside the federal government.

Attorneys said prosecution of government workers for leaking
information is rare. However, last year, Attorney General John
Ashcroft's anti-leak task force recommended agencies identify and
prosecute employees who do so.
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