March 24th, 2009
05:13 AM ET
6 years ago

Former employee sentenced for accessing passport files

 One year after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama called for an investigation into passport snooping of candidates' passport files by State Department employees, a second of three workers fired and prosecuted over the incident has been sentenced.
One year after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama called for an investigation into passport snooping of candidates' passport files by State Department employees, a second of three workers fired and prosecuted over the incident has been sentenced.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - One year after then-presidential candidate Barack Obama called for an investigation into passport snooping of candidates' passport files by State Department employees, a second of three workers fired and prosecuted over the incident has been sentenced.

Dwayne Cross, 41, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland, was sentenced to 12 months of probation and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Cross, a contract employee with access to the private files, pled guilty to accessing passport applications of more than 150 politicians, actors, musicians, athletes, models and other celebrities, the Justice Department announced.

"Cross admitted that he had no official government reason to access and view these passport applications, but that his sole purpose in accessing and viewing these passport applications was idle curiosity," the Justice Department statement said.

The Justice Department, citing a federal privacy law, would not identify the names of individuals whose files Cross had accessed.

The investigation was triggered in March, 2008, when the State Department acknowledged the files of Senators and presidential candidates Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain had been improperly accessed.

The State Department spokesman at the time confirmed Barack Obama's file had been viewed three times by State Department contractors. Spokesman Sean McCormack said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had personally apologized to the candidates and promised an investigation.

The files contain passport applications, extensive private personal data, and other records with biographical information.

Former foreign service officer and intelligence analyst Lawrence Yontz pled guilty to a similar offense and was sentenced in December to one year of probation. Former foreign service officer Gerald Leuders has also pled guilty in the case and is awaiting sentencing.


Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John McCain • President Obama
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. patrick

    Good! Lets now investigate Bush and cheney!

    March 23, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  2. Had It

    Oh Great. Go after private citizens for being nosey, and let Bush/Cheney walk scott-free of all their crimes. That's just great. Only in America !!

    March 23, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    What else besides for corruption would expect coming out of the Bush Justice Dept.

    March 23, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  4. Gracie, MD

    What a knuckle-head. Doesn't he know "curiosity KILLED the cat?"

    March 23, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  5. Don

    The defecit ballooning has more to do with Obama stopping Bush's accounting gimmick of not including the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in the federal budget. If you add those costs to Bush's budgets, the defecit has already grown into the unsustainable trillions...again, Obama inherited this disaster.

    March 23, 2009 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  6. Cheryl

    Why are contracted employees even allowed access? Have they privatized that too?

    March 23, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Jackie in Dallas

    Hardly even a wrist slap for violating people's privacy! Come on, I'm basically a moderate person, and don't usually go very far to the right, but this is ridiculous! A year probation? Community service? Geez, just give an open invitation to whoever wants to look!

    Our privacy laws prevent me from seeing my own medical records, but a random person working in the government can access anything with hardly a whisper of punishment? Big Brother is indeed watching!

    March 23, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  8. Roy Arellano (San Antonio)

    Curiosity killed the cat....

    March 23, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Carolyn Greene

    Is anyone that President Obama recommends or has on his staff ever going to be accepted?

    March 23, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |