NOAA employee charged with stealing U.S. dam information

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 21, 2014 8:01 PM

By Steve Bittenbender

(Reuters) - A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employee in Ohio has been charged with stealing sensitive information from a federal database for the nation's dams and lying about the breach to federal agents, prosecutors said.

Xiafen "Sherry" Chen, 59, was arrested on Monday at the NOAA office in Wilmington, Ohio, about 50 miles northeast of Cincinnati, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Ohio said in a statement on Monday.

Chen was charged with theft, illegally accessing a federal database and two counts of making false statements to investigators. She could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the theft charge and five years each if convicted on the other charges, prosecutors said.

Chen was accused of accessing restricted areas of the National Inventory of Dams on various days in May 2012 and downloading sensitive files and providing false information to investigators in June 2013, prosecutors said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the National Dam Safety Review Board maintain the database, which consists of dams meeting certain hazard or height criteria.

(Reporting by Steve Bittenbender in Louisville, Kentucky; Editing by Sandra Maler)