March 21st, 2012
03:57 PM ET

Scientist caught in FBI sting sentenced to 13 years

 By CNN's Carol Cratty

A former NASA scientist was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in prison for trying to sell Israel classified U.S. defense information about military satellites.

Stewart David Nozette, 54, pleaded guilty to espionage in 2011, and in a separate 2009 case he admitted to fraud and tax charges involving more than $265,000 in false claims he submitted to the government in his position as head of a non-profit organization.

According to the government, Nozette received a phone call in September of 2009 from a person claiming to be an Israeli intelligence officer from the Mossad, but who was actually an FBI undercover operative. Nozette told the person he had top secret clearances and said that anything "the U.S. has done in space I've seen."

Nozette, an MIT-trained scientist, said he wanted money for classified information and also required a foreign passport to a country without an extradition treaty with the United States.

The initial conversation led to further contacts and Nozette took $10,000 in cash which the FBI left for him at drop-off sites as part of the sting operation. In return the government said Nozette provided classified material including information which "directly concerned satellites, early warning systems, means of defense or retaliation against large-scale attack, communications intelligence information, and major elements of defense strategy."

Nozette met the undercover operative at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington on October 19, 2009, pushed for larger payments for the secret information and said, "I've sort of crossed the Rubicon," according to the government. Nozette was arrested and has been in custody ever since.

"Stewart Nozette's greed exceeded his loyalty to our country," said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen. "He wasted his talent and ruined his reputation by agreeing to sell national secrets to someone he believed was a foreign agent. His time in prison will provide him ample opportunity to reflect on his decision to betray the United States."

In September 2011, after Nozette pleaded guilty to espionage, his attorney, John Kiyonaga, called the expected 13-year prison term "a fair sentence." Nozette had faced 30 years to life if convicted at trial.

Nozette's career in government service took him to NASA, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy and to the White House's National Space Council.

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Filed under: FBI • Israel • Legal • Military
soundoff (71 Responses)
  1. Kingofthenet

    I would HANG this guy, or require him to undergo a lobotomy

    April 12, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Reply
  2. larry5

    With the current Administration management in place I wonder how much of this is true and how much is politics?

    March 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Reply
  3. Troy in Austin

    Good, I hope they burn him!

    March 22, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Reply
  4. Jimbob

    OK let me get this right, Israel hired the FBI to go into space and find this MIT scientist and entice him with $10 million in stolen diamonds from Africa who in which hired the Mossad to make WMD's out of weather balloons and then sell them on the black market and on E-Bay who in which hired Google to do a word search and the name of the MIT scientist popped up when they entered "hotrussianbabewithbigguns.com", just another question who is directing this movie and when will it be out?

    March 22, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Reply
  5. gastrafitis

    This world is nothing but a never ending battle between 1. Who has the money 2. Who has the money 3. Real Law Enforcement. Just like when it comes down to classified US Defense secrets, it's all about who has the money.

    March 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
  6. jeepwranglerri

    Hang him....

    March 22, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
  7. Naija

    No other country with exemption of China spy on US more than Israel,with a best buddy like Israel who needs enemy,not to mention billions of dollars in aid and other undocumented side deals that goes to our best buddy in the who wide world.
    Illegal Mexicans have better allegiance to the US than most Jewish people.

    March 22, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  8. squirrel justice

    Our justice system has become soft with the death penalty, it should be death by fire squad for treason but then you would hear some exteremist/hippie types yell thats against human rights or some bs.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • BuzzK

      There is too much money to be made in the penal system. That is the big advocate against death penalty. Prison lobbies.
      It costs tax payers probably a million a year or more for every supermax prisoner.
      Lifetime sentence? Ka-ching!
      Not hippies. Repu

      March 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Reply
  9. ms ella

    you people are crazy you should be thankful the fbi was there you will always have people trying to sell this country for a dollar go somewhere else you dont like it in let them do there job everybody is not our friends stupid.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:39 pm | Reply
  10. ctbeckyw

    Selling secrets? Guilty of treason. He should suffer death by firing squad.

    March 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  11. Mr.Swagg

    He should be shot.
    period.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:54 am | Reply
  12. Gallienus

    Goes to prove that a science degree at MIT doesn't necessarily prove someone was smart. Unless he was an Israeli patriot. Selling defense secrets for $10K?? you can't even buy a single decent Roman coin for that amount nowadays. No wonder why the space shuttles exploded or burned up if we have guys like this working on them.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:30 am | Reply
  13. Sarah

    Israel has been spying on the US since 1947, setting microphones in US Embassies, offices, people like Pollard guilty of spying his acctions brought death to Americans and people that work with them, his christian wife converted and Israel granted citizenship to her and refused to hand her over, since she was also guilty.
    They bite the hand that feeds them ,we give millions to a Socialist State to make sure Israelis live in a style we do not dream to have.
    I am glad that any method is used to protect us from spies. It is a pity they can not be hanged.

    March 22, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
  14. what?

    Israel developed the nuclear technology they have today working in conjunction with the French and South Africans. They did steal American nuclear secrets, but never had the capacity to utilize them themselves. Besides which, Great Britain set up Israel and Palestine, not America, though we have inherited most of the fallout from the results. Quit garnering the basis for you beliefs on why the world is what it is from CNN.

    March 22, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • Adam C Ruff

      The individual in this story is a true hero. I'd give the IDF any classified information for free. Israel is a better country than the US and deserves anything that the US has. FUCK AMERICA!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
      • Buzk

        Ewww. An Isra-el-troll.
        Someone get some spray
        And hit him with the "troll-away"

        March 22, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
      • Clem Kaddilehopper

        If you are within American borders do yourself a favor, LEAVE. If you are not within American borders do yourself, and those of us within these fine borders a favor, and STAY AWAY. It is OK to have opinions regarding who may be better than the other. Dialog and intelligent differences are important to understanding one another. However, folks like you are not intelligent enough to think of a more appropriate word to use, so you revert to one you used in grade school (maybe you did not attend school and are actually the moron you seem to be). Unless you can be (at least APPEAR to be) civil I for one would like to see you keep your moronic opinions out. You stink up our planet.

        March 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
  15. bye bye lucky 13

    this idiot is now uncomfortable in his new home for the next 13 years by which time the usa will lay more charges. smart move idiot , enjoy the stay. so anyone for selling info please step forward is now placed on bill boards around such work sites.

    March 22, 2012 at 6:53 am | Reply
  16. the wise

    DOWN WITH ISRAEL!!

    March 21, 2012 at 11:48 pm | Reply
    • Florida

      Down with Israel??? Really??!! How old and uneducated are you?? Its stupid people like you that cause problems in todays world....Oh and dont be mad at Israel because they can kick anyones ass that tries to attack them.

      March 22, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
      • JudgeDB

        Israel is half the reason most of the Muslim world hates the US. The only reason Israel has any power at all is because the US gives them a lot of financial and military aid. Israel also stole our nuclear secrets in the 50's. That said, Israel really wasn't involved in this story other than the traitor thought he was selling secrets to them.

        March 22, 2012 at 9:45 am |
      • BuzzK

        If they can defend against the people the pissoff, they would not be begging and schnorrering off the American people to fight and pay for their wars....like a bunch of brokeass hobos. Cheap, conniving Israel.

        March 22, 2012 at 10:52 am |
      • the wise

        Ick...ur so gay buddy..

        Down with Israel

        March 22, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  17. aj

    yea we can't handle Jews in space, good job FBI

    March 21, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Reply
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      You kinda missed the point of the story there knucklehead.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:54 am | Reply
  18. kavita gunaji

    I just want to know one thing. Why does the FBI always sting the intelligent scientist? Is it possible that the brains of this scientist were so incredible that the FBI decided to take a bribe from some drug-dealer godfather type and had this person feel some sort of greed once in his lifetime that he fell for the setup? Now, the FBI has his grey matter to clone in a lab and develop as their own. What the hell is going on in this world? Pigs are ruling everyone. They even get to contaminate everything with bacon flavor. Why target an MIT scientist? Do the boors in the FBI even realize what it takes to get to MIT? How can the common civilian ever trust the FBI to be the good guy? A godfather type who was pushed into that life and protects more people seems to be the more trustworthy person. He at least lets people live a happy life. I always thought (like the stupid little girl I am) that the FBI was the trustworthy policeman. I did not think that they were eaters of the dead – like in the night of the living dead – raiders of the grey matter. You better make something good out of that grey matter.

    March 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
    • nopretenders

      wow, i think i owe BuzzK an apology, comepared to you, he looks like a scientist himself

      March 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
      • BuzzK

        Save your apology and your vapid personal attacks.
        I haven't read any comment of yours that demonstrates a superior intellect.
        Maybe just an empty personal life. Must be very frustrating.

        March 21, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Fargo

      Just out of curiosity kavita, which planet are you from ?

      March 22, 2012 at 6:33 am | Reply
      • kavita gunaji

        you must spell my name with a 'tha' at the end or then again you must be from illinois.

        March 26, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      Well at least you were accurate on one statement. The one about you being a stupid little girl..... The rest is pretty much incoherent.

      March 22, 2012 at 6:57 am | Reply
    • Jim

      I love bacon

      March 22, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  19. nopretenders

    julian assange and bradly manning will both suffer the same fate

    March 21, 2012 at 9:23 pm | Reply
    • Gerald Sobel

      Kavita, I believe the Wiki-leaks people did not do it for personal gain, but because a crime was and is being covered up, gunning down unarmed journalists and coming to the aid of the wounded . How about the massive fraud of leading us to war on blatant phoney evidence? When BBC calls a military vehicle what it is, a field hydrogen generator to inflate observation balloons for artillery, and GW Bush et. al. call it a mobile bio lab to make WMD's, and HE and Cheny get away with HIGH CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS? You should read the Guradian, FBI paying $250,000 bribes to people to entice them to commit a crime, free car, etc. That's called entrapment. There are thousands of Americans who could fall for that, but wouldn't without being approached. Why don't they go after the Bank Fraudsters????

      March 21, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Reply
    • JudgeDB

      Julian Assange never committed a crime. Publishing secret US documents that are given to you is not a crime in Australia, where Assange is from, or in Sweden. The fact that you think he deserves the same fate for revealing the atrocities the US government has been carrying out in the name of their citizens shows you for the idiot you truly are. People like you are what halted progress during the middle ages, and if you have your way we'll be back to that level of thought within the next couple decades.

      March 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  20. BuzzK

    Yet another reason why Americans are misled and betrayed by our "ally" Israel.
    No good will ever come of letting this manipulative and troublesome country weild some much influence in our govt.
    Imagine if this traitor had been Muslim. First. It would be a headline.
    Second, every pro-Israel stooge in America would be screaming for his execution and heralding the coming Jihad against America.
    In a few years, Israel will begin quietly trying to get him released. He will be honored as a hero when he moves to Israel.
    And they will name a public square after him.
    Just like Jonathan Pollard.

    March 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Reply
    • nopretenders

      you ignorance betrays you

      March 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm | Reply
      • BuzzK

        Yeah, sure it does Bubby.
        What instance of ignorance would that be?
        Go ahead, make my day.

        March 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • MrMe

      You are an idiot. Israel had nothing to do with this. It was a STING operation by the FBI.

      You bigot.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:44 pm | Reply
      • BuzzK

        LOL! Yeah, everyone who criticizes Israel and our dysfunctional relationship with that country is a bigot, an "anti-semite," no! Hitler reincarnated!!! Ziionistas....crawling out of their hasbara covens to defend Israel and attack any dissention. Mor on.

        Apparently, this innocent victim wanted $2million dollars and specifically requested right of return to Israel. Do you think a smart guy like this had never contacted or interacted with Israelis before?

        Maybe you should check your alibis one more time.

        March 21, 2012 at 10:51 pm |
    • Gerald Sobel

      Israelis didn't do it, the FBI did it. Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
      • Buzk

        Yes yes...this genius with many years of experience in gov't defense programs was tricked into doing something Israel would never do....something that no American jew would ever do....obviously....he was the more deceived by the FBIs obvious tale of improbable deceit, right?

        Sure.

        March 22, 2012 at 1:33 am |
      • Sarah

        Israel does what is conviniet for Israel, they are not idiots, they have invented how to torture and spy, they were in Iran during the Sha time training the Savak , the secret police. They infiltrate and convince people to spy not only with money but to what the owe to a Jewish State, that it goes before loyalty to theie country.

        March 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • AGrey

      He was an American citizen trying to sell classified information to FBI agents he thought were Israeli agents. Israel actually had nothing to do with this. Thus why it was a sting.

      March 22, 2012 at 12:44 am | Reply
    • Adam C Ruff

      This person is a hero. Israel is a better country than the US and deserves to do whatever they feel is necessary. I would personally like to meet this man to congratulate him on his wonderful effort. Next time we'll be successful. FUCK AMERICA!

      March 22, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  21. Kim

    Death is the punishment for treason during war-times.

    March 21, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
    • Karl

      Nozette can't be convicted of treason because the Israli government wasn't actually involved.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Reply
      • nopretenders

        bradly manning commited treason during war time
        assange has commited espionage for his actions concerning classified military documents

        March 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
      • JudgeDB

        Uh, no, it is not espionage to publish documents that a member of a foreign government gives you. Assange never came to the US, he never hacked any US computers, he never bribed any US personnel to steal documents. All he did was publish the truth. If you think that qualifies as espionage then I pity you.

        March 22, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • kavita gunaji

      not when the sting is set up. we are not that dumb – tell that to the fbi.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Reply
  22. James

    Why is this story not headlined? Its tucked away under this Security Clearance section so most people don't see it. Hmm I wonder who's behind that.

    March 21, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • kavita gunaji

      because when they tuck it behind security redtape, they can do with him as they please. i was in this country but for 6 months when they stunned me with a stun gun, got me blind and paralyzed and took my spinal fluid for experiments. they cloned me. they will clone this guy for spying for america. i became an american within 6 months in this country because i had reasonable intelligence.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
      • nopretenders

        there is nothing reasonable or intelligent about you
        that is quite obvious

        March 21, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
  23. Mike B

    Can anyone with a legal background explain to me how this isn't entrapment?

    March 21, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Reply
    • Anthony

      Nobody made him do it. Although the FBI initiated the sting, there was nothing that forced Nozette to commit his crimes. Entrapment is when the police force you to break the law, and then arrest you.

      March 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Reply
      • JL

        Not forced. More like enticed or tricked. In criminal law, entrapment is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit.

        March 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Steve

      I have a background in the legal world, but honestly, this wikipedia description answers your questions perfectly: "In criminal law, entrapment is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit.[1] In many jurisdictions, entrapment is a possible defense against criminal liability. However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime. For example, it is not entrapment for a government agent to pretend to be someone else and to offer, either directly or through an informant or other decoy, to engage in an unlawful transaction with the person (see sting operation). So, a person would not be a victim of entrapment if the person was ready, willing and able to commit the crime charged in the indictment whenever opportunity was afforded, and that government officers or their agents did no more than offer an opportunity"

      March 21, 2012 at 6:46 pm | Reply
    • American Patriot

      It is not entrapment if there is reason to believe that someone could take the bait? this guy should have been executed. Jewish priority is Israel not the US or any other country they're in. some may seem to integrate on the outside but inside their loyalty is always to Israel. Israel also continues its espionage of American strengths and weaknesses and critically strategic information. Why would they be doing so if they are our friend and will never attack us?

      March 21, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Reply
      • Evangelicide

        That's an excellent question. Anyone?

        Someone just questioned Israel's alliance with us. Shouldn't people be squawking "nazi!" or something?

        March 21, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
      • AGrey

        I'm a jew as are most of my ancestors and the US is the one and only country I have allegiance to. A member of my family fought for this country in every war it ever fought up to the Korean war. So I'm sorry to burst your little, paranoid, anti-semitic bubble, but, pop.

        March 22, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Karl

      a person would not be a victim of entrapment if the person was ready, willing and able to commit the crime charged in the indictment whenever opportunity was afforded, and that government officers or their agents did no more than offer an opportunity.

      March 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Reply
    • nopretenders

      his duty to himself and his country was to decline, and if he had any honor, to report such an illegal loffer

      March 21, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Reply
    • BuzzK

      Any kind of sting, including Vice squads which set up phoney prostitutes to lure johns is an instance where those likely to commit a crime are exposed.

      In jurisprudence, entrapment is a legal defense by which a defendant may argue that he or she should not be held criminally liable for actions which broke the law, because they were induced (or entrapped) by the police to commit said acts. For the defense to be successful, the defendant must demonstrate that the police induced an otherwise unwilling person to commit a crime. However, when a person is predisposed to commit a crime, offering opportunities to commit the crime is not entrapment, a widely held misconception similar to the idea that police officers must answer questions truthfully if they are asked the same question three times, or that they must say "yes" if asked if they are a police officer.

      March 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm | Reply
    • kavita gunaji

      it is entrapment of the highest order; the question is why did the fbi do it to this brilliant person? why are they into destroying lives? why do they set up people into taking a fall so that that could be used as a collateral in helping one of the craps that should be in prison get away with their drug-peddling crimes? why? pourquoi?

      March 21, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Reply
  24. BYE BYE LUCKY 13

    So i guess the mossad turned this idiot over to justice.

    March 21, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Reply
    • The Eagle has landed

      umm FBI did this not Mossad. Mossad would have hired him. Just like plenty of other jewish spies in America.

      March 21, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Reply
    • Brian

      I don't think he is an idiot by any accounts. A degree from MIT, having to work on satellites and the defence system.. He is a genius if anything. Just made the wrong decisions out of greed..

      March 21, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
    • kavita gunaji

      i take it you have no college education.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Reply
  25. sam

    What happened to the punishment for treason being the death penalty?

    March 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Reply
    • kavita gunaji

      punishment for treason by death penalty has become outlawed since our law enforcement lives on the bribes of the outlaws.

      March 21, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Reply

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