Man Fined for Falsely Accusing Boss of Being a Spy

ALBANY (AP) -

An electrical engineer for a defense contractor was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 180 hours of community service for falsely accusing his boss of spying for another country.

Ryan Letcher, a 39-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, was also sentenced to four years’ probation and ordered to avoid contact with the ex-boss and to stay off the company’s premises.

Letcher was convicted in August of making a knowingly false statement to federal authorities when he wrote an anonymous letter to the Defense Security Service in March 2012 accusing his boss at BAE Systems of being “foreign intelligence.”

His supervisor has a security clearance. The FBI investigated his travel, home, work history, financial history and known associations before concluding he isn’t a spy.

Authorities said Letcher admitted to FBI agents that he sent the letter because of conflict with the supervisor over taking credit for his work, and that he believed his boss was a fraud and stupid. BAE Systems fired Letcher last year around the time of his arrest.

“In another place of employment or in another time, perhaps that letter would have been immediately disregarded. It wasn’t,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Tamara Thomson wrote in a memo proposing Letcher be sentenced to 15 to 21 months in prison. “When the accusation centers around an engineer with a secret clearance working for a Department of Defense contractor, a letter like the defendant’s becomes a matter of national security.”

Letcher has since got another job, where he’s gotten good reviews.