Two employees of the nation’s most secretive intelligence agencies have been indicted for allegedly trying to fix a spying services contract at Buckley Air Force Base’s Aerospace Data Facility, federal prosecutors said Friday.
Air Force Maj. Kevin Kuciapinski, with the National Reconnaissance Office, and Randolph Stimac, of the National Security Agency, face charges of “procurement fraud and unlawfully disclosing and obtaining bid information concerning a contract estimated to be worth almost $1.5 million,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver said in a news release.
A third defendant is Kuciapinski’s ex-wife, Mykhael Kuciapinski, whose firm, Company G, allegedly obtained the ill-gotten information in an attempt to win a federal contract at the Data Facility in Aurora, one of the nation’s most secure sites.
“The defendants conspired with each other to unlawfully obtain and disclose source selection information prior to the award for services related to a contract for services related to (the) NSA, a category of intelligence that involves the collection, processing, and dissemination of foreign communications in order to obtain foreign intelligence necessary to the national defense, national security, or the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States,” prosecutors said.
The three sought “competitive” advantage through the scheme, prosecutors allege. They were arrested Friday, prosecutors said.
Federal bidding shenanigans are comparatively common. What makes this case rare is the agencies involved. The National Reconnaissance Office uses space-based cameras to spy on America’s enemies and rivals around the globe. The National Security Agency uses satellites and other means to gather everything from phone calls and email traffic to enemy war plans and social media posts.
The seldom-discussed spy conglomeration at Buckley Air Force Base’s Aerospace Data Facility gathers the satellite-spying booty and distributes it for use.
The contract work discussed in the indictment likely involves parsing through massive volumes of intercepted enemy communications.
Called “signals intelligence,” it is generally given the highest classification of American secrets.
The contract, tied to a code-word project called “Vesper Lillet,” was put up for bid by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. While the indictment filed in the case does not discuss why America’s health agency was involved, it is not uncommon for the nation’s most secretive jobs to be hidden behind agencies that are not otherwise involved in spying.
The allegations date back to 2013.
The indictment claims Maj. Kuciapinski used his position as National Reconnaissance Office’s “technical director of experiment and initiatives,” to gather information on the contract during a trip to Washington, D.C.
Stimac, the indictment says, passed the information to Kuciapinski’s former wife. Stimac, an expert on intercepting enemy signals, is alleged to have joined in a series of emails to push the contacting scheme.
Prosecutors say the three also lobbied the military and spy agencies to come up with cash to support their contracting effort, targeting the Air Force and Army for startup funds.
Together, the three are charged with 17 federal crimes, each of which can bring a five-year prison term.
It’s unclear from the news release whether the alleged bid tampering resulted in Company G obtaining access to spying secrets. Prosecutors described the firm as one that “attempted to do business with the U.S. Government.”
None of the charges alleges a breach of national security.
The investigation brought together an all-star team from several agencies, prosecutors said.
“This case was investigated by the NRO Office of the Inspector General, NSA, Defense Criminal Investigative Services, Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the IRS-Criminal Investigations,” the news release said.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240 Twitter: @xroederx