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Former scientist jailed for attempting to sell nuclear bomb secrets

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Zach McAuliffe
Zach McAuliffe is a University of Dayton alumni with degrees in journalism and English. He wants to present people with all the facts they need to make informed decisions on the world around them. He also enjoys Shakespeare and long walks on the beach with his puppy Lily.

A former scientist who worked for the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, has been sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to give nuclear secrets to Venezuelan operatives.

Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 79, pleaded guilty in 2013 to charges of espionage for delivering the nuclear plans to FBI agents. Mascheroni, who thought the FBI agents were with the Venezuelan government, also said he would build 40 nuclear bombs for Venezuela in exchange for “money and power,” according to St. Louis Today.

“I’m going to be the boss with money and power,” Mascheroni, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, reportedly said in recordings the FBI released Wednesday. “I’m not an American anymore. This is it.”

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According to the BBC, Mascheroni said Venezuela would be able to establish a secret underground nuclear reactor in order to enrich plutonium, and he said the country would be able to produce a nuclear power plant as well.

John Carlin, the assistant attorney general for national security, told the Telegraph, “The public trusts that the government will do all it can to safeguard ‘Restricted Data’ from being unlawfully transmitted to foreign nations not entitled to receive it.” 

The “Restricted Data” included information concerning the manufacturing, design, and use of atomic weapons, as well as information involving the production of special nuclear material to create energy.

New Mexico US Attorney Damon Martinez also said, “Those who work at our country’s national laboratories are charged with safeguarding that sensitive information, and we must and will vigorously prosecute anyone who compromises our nation’s nuclear secrets for profit.”

Mascheroni is sentenced to five years in jail, while his wife Marjorie, who also worked for LANL and pleaded guilty to similar charges, will face one year is jail.

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