One year after he was arrested on suspicion of espionage, Benjamin Bishop admitted to a judge he crossed the line with classified information.
The former civilian defense contractor pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court to emailing classified information to his girlfriend, a Chinese national. He also confessed to unlawfully taking defense documents from his office at U.S. Pacific Command to his home in Kapolei.
"They shouldn't have been there. They should have stayed at work," Bishop told U.S. Magistrate Judge Kevin Chang.
Defense attorney Birney Bervar said Bishop, 60, became romantically involved with the 28-year-old woman when she was studying in Hawaii.
"He was helping her with her graduate studies and with her thesis, and he took some documents home in order to educate himself to help her," Bervar said.
But assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth Sorenson said the paperwork contained America's classified activities.
"Those documents set forth defense strategies for the entire Pacific region. Clearly the Pacific region is an area of great concern to U.S. national security," he said.
Bishop was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Military officials said from 2010 to 2012, he had access to top secret information. He is divorced and has a young daughter. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for each count and a fine of up to $250,000 per offense when he's sentenced in June.