A Michigan man pleaded guilty Friday to accepting $70,000 from Chinese spies as he attempted to secure jobs with the CIA and U.S. Foreign Service that would have allowed him to expose U.S. government secrets.
Glenn D. Shriver, 28, of Grand Rapids, Mich., acknowledged Friday in U.S. District Court that he sought the jobs with the intent of selling classified information to Beijing. He pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to provide national defense information to Chinese intelligence officers.
Under a plea agreement, prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed to recommend a four-year prison term that a judge is required to impose at sentencing set for Jan. 21.
Court documents said Shriver was approached by Chinese officers while living in Shanghai in 2004 after earlier study trips to China.
In China, Shriver answered an English-language ad seeking someone with an East Asian studies background to write a paper on U.S.-Chinese relations. Court documents said that led Chinese officers to recruit Shriver and encourage him to seek out U.S. government jobs that would gain him access to classified and secret documents.
In 2005 and 2006, Shriver took the Foreign Service exam. He failed both times, but his Chinese handlers gave him $10,000 for his first attempt and $20,000 for his second, documents show.
Then in 2007, Shriver applied for a job with the CIA. He then traveled to China and requested $40,000 from the Chinese agents for that and was paid in cash he smuggled through U.S. Customs on his return, authorities said.
The documents indicate Shriver spent two years going through the CIA hiring process and reached the final security screenings. But a U.S. intelligence official said Shriver was discovered very early in the hiring process. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the hiring process.
Shriver's attorney, G. Allen Dale, said Shriver was a naive young man just out of college when he was recruited and now knows he made a terrible mistake.
"He didn't go to China looking for trouble. It found him," Dale said in a phone interview.
In all, Shriver met with Chinese agents 20 times between 2004 and 2007 and intended to use his jobs to transmit government secrets to Beijing, authorities said. Dale said that Shriver never landed a job that allowed him to divulge any sensitive information.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Neil MacBride, said Shriver betrayed his country.
"Mr. Shriver threw away his education, his career and his future when he chose to position himself to spy," MacBride's statement said.
Federal prosecutors in recent years have brought dozens of cases against defendants accused of crimes related to Chinese espionage efforts.
Shriver was initially charged in June with making false statements. While those charges spelled out that Shriver had lied to the CIA about his contacts with Chinese agents, he was not charged then with attempted espionage.