A 30-year Navy engineer with access to government secrets has been indicted on charges of lying about his dual Iranian citizenship and creating false identities to conceal his ongoing ties and money he received from overseas.
U.S. federal prosecutors are accusing Naval Sea Systems Command employee James Robert Baker, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Iran, of lying about his holding an active Iranian passport and using four separate social security numbers to open bank accounts, move money and shield his income from taxes — including an unexplained overseas wire transfer of $133,902 in 2009.
Baker, who changed his name from Majid Karimi when he became a U.S. citizen in 1985, faces 14 counts on charges including lying on his SF-86 security clearance questionnaire, identification documents fraud and social security fraud, which could bring a maximum sentence of nearly 70 years in prison. However, experts say Baker, if convicted on all charges, would likely only spend about five years behind bars because of sentencing guidelines.
Baker’s attorney, Tom Walsh of Petrovich & Walsh P.L.C., did not return calls and emails seeking comment by Wednesday. A number D.C. number listed for Baker was disconnected. Baker, whose is believed to be in his 60s, is currently out on $75,000 bond and is awaiting an April jury trail, according to court documents.
Baker’s alleged fraud appears to span his entire 30-year career as a Navy civilian and has raised questions about whether authorities missed red flags that should have disqualified him from access to secrets.
“He shouldn’t have a security clearance, no questions about it,” said Bill Cowden, a former U.S. attorney who independently reviewed the indictment for Navy Times. “This is just another example of what’s causing a lot of people to question whose dropping the ball on security clearances. You have leaks of government information, you have people accessing personnel records and you have this. It just doesn’t give you a lot of confidence that the government is doing a good job of vetting people.”
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