A retired FBI agent from Colorado Springs faces up to a decade in prison after federal prosecutors charged him with pilfering a trove of FBI documents, including a classified agreement with the Central Intelligence Agency.
Yen Cham Yung, 57, who once worked as a liaison officer for the FBI at Peterson Air Force Base's U.S. Northern Command, was held in Denver on espionage and theft charges tied to a string of computer files and documents found in his home after federal authorities were tipped off by his estranged spouse, court papers said.
Northern Command, which works with the FBI in its mission to protect the continent from terrorist attack, referred all questions about the matter to the FBI, which could not be immediately reached for comment.
Yung is not charged with handing the information over to anyone, but possessing files is illegal, the agency said. The FBI said Yung had files on some of the agency’s most secretive work tied to counterterrorism, drug interdiction and missions to stop the spread of nuclear and other weapons.
Hired by the FBI in 1996, Yung held a string of important jobs for the agency, including overseeing its organized crime unit in Chicago, court papers said. He retired from the agency in 2016, a year after surrendering his security clearance, which granted him access to classified data.
Why Yung surrendered his clearance, a rare move for an FBI agent, remained unclear.
But prosecutors allege that Yung held onto documents and kept them in his Colorado Springs house long after his clearance was pulled and he had turned in his badge.
The agency learned that Yung had the files after it was tipped off that his estranged spouse had found them while combing through the house for marital paperwork last August after filing for a protection order against Yung, court papers said.
Some of the purloined documents were mailed to the FBI's Chicago office by the tipster. Others were seized after search warrants were issued, court papers said.
Some of the data was contained on devices marked as federal property, court papers said.
Among the documents was a 2005 memorandum of understanding between the FBI and CIA “regarding the activities of those agencies overseas and domestically,” court papers said.
FBI agents say they turned up dozens of computer disks and storage devices at the Colorado Springs house along with a Nikon camera that belonged to the agency’s Chicago office.
The documents that agents claim Yung kept range from FBI internal affairs files and information on confidential informants to child pornography obtained by the agency in investigations.
Yung's fingerprints were found on some of the paper documents and some of the electronic files, including the CIA memo, were tied to him through computer credentials, court papers said.
No theft of Defense Department documents or information specific to Northern Command was detailed in court papers charging Yung. But the agency said it was still digging through electronic files found in Yung's home.
Yung was arrested in Colorado on Tuesday and was held in federal custody ahead of his expected transfer to Chicago to face charges.
Court records showed he was represented by the federal public defender’s office in Colorado, which refused comment on the case.
Reporter Olivia Prentzel contributed to this report