A
former US government contractor is facing nine years in prison after pleading
guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information. This
is more than 20 years after the crime, according to the U.S. Department of
Justice.

Harold
Thomas Martin, III, 54, was employed by at least seven different private
companies and assigned as a contractor to work at a number of government
agencies from December 1993 through Aug. 27, 2016, according to his plea
agreement.

He held security clearances that meant he could access top secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) that should under no circumstances be put at risk of disclosure. Yet that’s exactly what Martin did when he took the data home and even held it in his car, the DOJ said in a press release.

As per
Martin’s plea agreement, he retained stolen national defense-related documents both
digitally and as hard copies, some even bearing standard classification
markings.

“Martin
admitted that beginning in the late 1990s and continuing through Aug. 31, 2016,
he stole and retained U.S. government property, from secure locations and
computer systems, including documents that bore markings indicating that they
were the property of the United States and contained highly classified
information of the United States, including TOP SECRET/SCI information,” the
DOJ says.

“Martin
knew that the hard copy and digital documents stolen from his workplace
contained classified information that related to the national defense and that
he was never authorized to retain these documents at his residence or in his
vehicle,” the DOJ continues. “Martin admitted that he also knew that the
unauthorized removal of these materials risked their disclosure, which would be
damaging to the national security of the United States and highly useful to its
enemies.”

According to reports, Martin was initially charged with 20 counts of violating the Espionage Act, but only pleaded guilty to one. Federal prosecutors accepted his guilty plea and dropped the remaining 19 charges, but if the court accepts his plea agreement, Martin still faces nine long years behind bars. Sentencing is scheduled for July 17, 2019.