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A Hawaii woman employed by the Department of Defense pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to the removal of classified information discovered in her hotel room during a dinner party attended by two foreign nationals while she was temporarily visiting the U.S. embassy in Manila, Philippines, was assigned.
Asia Lavarello, 31, pleaded guilty to knowingly removing and holding in an unauthorized location classified information about US national defense or foreign affairs in one case, the Justice Department said.
“Government officials have a responsibility to ensure that classified information is properly handled and secured. Asia Janay Lavarello failed in her duty when she removed classified information from the US Embassy in Manila,” said Steven Merrill, special adviser for the FBI’s Honolulu office. said in a statement.
Lavarello was employed as a management assistant at the Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii when she accepted the assignment in the Philippines. On March 20, she took secret documents from the embassy to her hotel room, where she was hosting a dinner party that evening, the federal prosecutor said.
Two foreigners were among the guests at the meeting. A colleague discovered the documents, including some classified as “SECRET”, the Justice Department said.
Her mission was then ended and she returned to Hawaii a few days later. During a search of her workplace at the Indo-Pacific Command, a notebook was found in her desk containing handwritten notes from meetings she had attended at the embassy in Manila.
“The notes contained facts and information classified at the CONFIDENTIAL and SECRET levels,” the DOJ said. “Investigators have determined that Lavarello did not send the secret notebook from the US Embassy in Manila to Hawaii in a secure diplomatic bag as prescribed.”
Fox News has reached out to the Indo-Pacific Command.
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Investigators said Lavarello took personally unsecured documents to Hawaii and kept the notebook in an unsecured location until at least April 13th. They also said she added information from the notebook to a Jan. 16 email from her personal Gmail account to the unclassified work account. .
She faces up to five years in prison, three years supervised release and a US $ 250,000 fine. She is due to be sentenced on November 4th.