Nozolino was stripped of security clearance over 'conduct'

By LANCE BENZEL The Gazette - Updated: February 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm • Published: February 7, 2014 | 6:05 pm

A federal official testified Friday that sniper suspect Bruce J.Nozolino's "personal conduct" during his nasty divorce led to the revocation of his top-secret security clearance and the loss of his job in the private defense sector.

Testimony about the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals action came as prosecutors began turning their attention to the fourth and final shooting for which Nozolino, 52, stands accused - the November 2008 slaying of Richard Schreiner, his ex-wife's former lover.

Schreiner, a civilian employee at the Air Force Academy, was shot once in the side while shoveling a sidewalk outside his Stetson Hills home.

Prosecutors allege earlier in what is to be an eight-week trial that Nozolino killed Schreiner, 46, in the belief that he was responsible for his job at Lockheed Martin, his marital discord and the loss of his control over his then-wife and daughters.

Among those testifying was Nicole Noel, a former prosecutor with the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals who pursued Nozolino's revocation.

She testified that an administrative judge revoked Nozolino's clearance in October 2008, based on testimony about a "series of behaviors" that called into question Nozolino's "judgment," "reliability," and ability to follow rules and regulations and to safeguard confidential information. She also cited a "September 2005 incident" at the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex in Colorado Springs.

Further testimony about that incident has yet to be heard at the criminal trial.

The decision on Nozolino's security clearance came at the conclusion of a three-day administrative hearing closed to the public under federal law.

For a hearing to last days rather than hours is "almost unheard of," Noel said.

Noel acknowledged under cross-examination that the administrative judge who decided the case concluded there was insufficient evidence that Nozolino committed the shootings - underscoring the challenge for prosecutors in trying a murder case based on Nozolino's disputed admissions to friends and circumstantial evidence but no forensic ties to the shootings.

Also testifying on Friday was Brian Nozolino of Virginia, the defendant's brother.

He described how Colorado Springs police detective Derek Graham and an FBI agent paid a series of unannounced visits to Nozolino's out-of-state relatives in June 2010, shortly before Nozolino's indictment by a Colorado Springs grand jury.

After answering Graham's questions about his brother - whom he rarely saw - Brian Nozolino said he checked his email to find a message from his brother advising him not to talk with any "visitors from Colorado Springs."

The email was part of the evidence that led to Nozolino's 2012 conviction for witness tampering, which, along with a separate conviction for perjury, resulted in a 21-year sentence.

In a sign of how slowly the homicide prosecution has progressed, presiding judge Victor I. Reyes announced this week that one of Nozolino's two 2012 convictions has reached an appeals panel for review.

No timeline about when a decision might be expected from the Court of Appeals was discussed.

A police evidence technician offered jurors a pictorial tour of Nozolino's Colorado Springs condominium, where Nozolino's bedroom doubled as an ammunition loading station.

Among the items removed from Nozolino's home during the January 2002 police search was a plastic bag containing more than 1,200 copper jacketed slugs, jurors were told, leading defense attorneys to question why police emphasized items that were legal to own and couldn't be tied to the shootings.

Defense attorneys say there is no evidence the four shootings are related and that prosecutors want to portray Nozolino, a target shooter and gun collector, as a "gun nut" to make up for an absence of physical evidence in the case.

Testimony is expected to continue at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

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