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Hawaii woman pleads guilty to mishandling classified material

Federal Courthouse, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Federal Courthouse, Honolulu, Hawaii.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:41 AM HST|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:42 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A 31-year-old Hawaii woman who worked as an executive assistant at US Indo-Pacific Command has pleaded guilty to knowingly removing classified material related to national defense or foreign relations and keeping it in an unauthorized location.

Asia Janay Lavarello pleaded guilty in US District Court on Tuesday.

Her sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 4. She faces up to five years behind bars and a fine of $250,000.

Federal prosecutors said Lavarello admitted to removing and keeping “numerous classified documents, writing and notes” relating to foreign relations and national defense without authority.

While she was an executive assistant at US Indo-Pacific Command, she accepted a temporary assignment at the US Embassy in the Philippines.

Prosecutors said she had access to classified documents there and took them to her hotel room, where she hosted a dinner party in March 2020 with two foreign nationals.

A co-worker discovered the documents, classified as “secret,” and she was fired.

She returned to the islands and in June, a search warrant was executed on her workplace at US Indo-Pacific Command. In her desk, investigators found a notebook with classified information.

Investigators said she did not follow proper procedures for handling the information. They also said she included classified information in an email on an unsecured network.

“Protecting the national security of the United States is our highest priority, and failing to adhere to the most basic security practices, as this defendant did, is contrary to this critical priority,” acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii Judith A. Philips said, in a news release.

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