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A former National Security Agency employee was convicted Thursday of taking two boxes of classified documents with him when he left his job in late 2003, records that investigators later found in his kitchen. Kenneth Ford, 34, of Waldorf, Md., wailed and rocked violently in his chair when a U.S. District Court jury found him guilty of possessing classified documents and making a false statement. “I didn’t do nothin’,” he shouted before laying his head down on the defense table, sobbing heavily. Jurors deliberated about four hours — one juror wept after the verdict. Ford faces a possible 15 years in prison when he is sentenced March 1. He was not charged with espionage and prosecutors did not say during his trial what Ford’s intentions were for the two boxes of classified NSA documents. Authorities also did not reveal the document contents during the trial that operated under special rules to protect classified information. “He had the information, he knew he shouldn’t have it, and he knew he shouldn’t have it in his home,” said U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein following the jury verdict. Ford’s attorney claimed those records could have been planted by a jilted ex-girlfriend who may have had ties to the NSA, a highly secretive intelligence agency that monitors electronic communications worldwide. Ford met the woman, Tanya Tucker, through the Internet just weeks before his arrest. It was Tucker who tipped the NSA off to the records in Ford’s house. “It seems mysterious that this character found him and eight weeks later something like this happened to him,” Hecht said. Ford, who was not imprisoned during his three week trial, will remain free before his sentencing. Hecht said he would appeal the verdict. Ford’s mother, Gloria Ford, believes he was framed by Tucker. “It’s all made up,” she said. “The prosecution lied.” A one-time uniformed Secret Service agent at the White House, Ford worked as a computer scientist at NSA from 2001 to late 2003. Upon leaving his job, Ford signed a termination agreement that ordered him to give up all secret records he had. But prosecutors claim that before Ford left, he pulled his pickup truck to the loading dock of his building, loaded it with classified documents, and drove off. Assistant U.S. Attorney David Salem described the documents in court as “computer documents for computer people.” Acting on Tucker’s tip, FBI agents searched Ford’s Waldorf home in early 2004 and found the boxes, including one that was labeled “Top Secret.” During the search, Ford confessed to taking the records, although he later claimed he was pressured by the FBI to sign a statement. Hecht said Ford met Tucker on the dating Web site Blackplanet.com. She testified that she spent 2003 Christmas week with Ford at his home and saw two cardboard boxes in his kitchen. Tucker looked in one and saw the word “classified.” In early January 2004, she called the NSA and FBI to report what she had seen. But Turner had a troubled past — she had been convicted of larceny, forgery, illegal use of a credit card and grand theft. She also told investigators that Ford planned to sell the documents to a foreign agent, which Hecht said was false. Hecht suggested that Turner intentionally contacted Ford through the dating site to set him up. He said she may have had other contacts at the NSA that allowed her to obtain the documents and plant them in Ford’s home. Hecht claimed Ford was framed because of the work he did at NSA, which Hecht couldn’t describe because it is classified. The false statement charge stems from claims Ford made about his background while applying for a job at defense contractor Lockheed Martin Corp. that required security clearance. The trial also gave an unusual look into some of the inner workings of the NSA, a spy agency that reveals little about itself. It is Maryland’s largest employer, headquartered at Fort Meade. To explain how Ford was able to drive off with boxes of classified material, prosecutors said security at the complex was based in part on trust of its employees not to misuse secret information. Citing testimony by NSA employees, many identified only by their first name and last initial, Salem said in his closing argument Wednesday that it was difficult to get into the NSA complex. But once inside, Salem said, workers had relative freedom to move about and experienced limited security. For example, security cameras at the building where Ford removed the boxes were not working that day, Salem said. Guards at the gate conducted only random searches of departing workers, which could explain how Ford was able to take the documents out. Hecht, however, claimed security was much tighter. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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