Military News

Monday, October 14, 2019

James Michael Wells Convicted for Murdering Coast Guard Employees


Anchorage, Alaska -- U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder announced that today, after deliberating for 8 hours, a jury of 6 women and 6 men found James Michael Wells guilty of the April 12, 2012, murders of U.S. Coast Guard Electrician’s Mate First Class James Hopkins (“Hopkins”) and retired Chief Boatswain’s Mate Richard Belisle (“Belisle”).

Wells, now 68, was arrested on Feb. 15, 2013, for the 2012 murders of Hopkins and Belisle, federal employees and Wells’ co-workers at the United States Coast Guard (“USCG”) antenna maintenance facility, located at the USCG Communication Station (“COMMSTA”) on Kodiak Island, Alaska. Wells was convicted in 2014 and the case was reversed on appeal by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2017.

Evidence at trial established that on April 12, 2012, between 7:09 and 7:14 a.m., Hopkins and Belisle were shot and killed with a .44 revolver, which was never found, while working at their duty stations in the Rigger Shop at COMMSTA.  First responders noted no evidence of a break-in or robbery and both men appeared to be victims of a targeted killing. Wells was due to arrive at the Rigger Shop the same time respectively as Hopkins and Belisle, but instead left two phone messages for Hopkins and Belisle, noted to be after the victims’ time of death, stating Wells was running late due to a flat tire. Wells ended up arriving to the Rigger Shop well over an hour after his normal start time, immediately claiming to have had a flat tire.

USCG security videos captured Wells passing the Main Gate at Base Kodiak at 6:48 a.m. in his white Dodge truck on his way toward the Kodiak Airport, and returning back toward his residence at 7:22 a.m. However, a small blue SUV, owned by Wells, was captured on USCG security videos passing the Rigger Shop front entrance. The evidence showed Wells drove his white Dodge pickup truck to the airport, where he swapped vehicles and drove Nancy Wells’ blue Honda CR-V to COMMSTA to commit the murders. There was a 34-minute period of time for which James Wells could not account and that unexplained discrepancy captured the attention of the interviewing agents. Additionally, a tire with a nail in it was seized and through extensive testing, the examiner concluded that the nail had been manually inserted into the tire, undermining the foundation of Wells’ alibi that he had picked up a nail while driving to work on the morning of the murders.

At trial, Wells testified that he had a low tire, stopped and went to the bathroom at Servant Air and then went home. He further testified that he removed the nail and replaced it with a larger nail which was the one discovered by investigators.

On October 8, 2019, Wells was convicted on all six counts of the indictment:  two counts of murder in the first degree, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1111, one for each victim; two counts of murder of an officer or employee of the United States, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1114, one for each victim; and two counts of possession and use of a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).

Sentencing will be scheduled by the court in the coming days.  The law provides for a mandatory sentence of life in prison.  Wells will remain in custody pending sentencing.

U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder notes that the conviction comes after an extensive investigation led by the FBI, with support from the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Alaska State Troopers.

Deputy Criminal Chief Steven Skrocki prosecuted the case along with Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Sherman, and Commander Kelly Stevens, U.S. Coast Guard, who was appointed as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Defense Intelligence Agency Employee Arrested for Leaking Classified Information to Journalists


An employee of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) was arrested today on charges related to his alleged disclosure of classified national defense information (NDI) to two journalists in 2018 and 2019.

“As laid out in today’s indictment, Frese was caught red-handed disclosing sensitive national security information for personal gain,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers.  “Frese betrayed the trust placed in him by the American people—a betrayal that risked harming the national security of this country. This is one of six unauthorized disclosure cases the Department has charged in just over two years, and we will continue in our efforts to punish and deter this behavior.”

Henry Kyle Frese, 30, of Alexandria, is a DIA employee and holds a Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information U.S. government security clearance. According to court documents, between mid-April and early May 2018, Frese allegedly accessed classified intelligence reports, some of which were unrelated to his job duties, and provided TOP SECRET information regarding a foreign country’s weapons systems to a journalist (Journalist 1).  According to court documents, Frese and Journalist 1 had the same residential address from August 2017 through August 2018 and, based on reviews of Frese’s and Journalist 1’s public social media pages, it appears that they were involved in a romantic relationship for some or all of that period of time.  The unauthorized disclosure of TOP SECRET information could reasonably be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the United States.

According to the indictment, a week after Frese accessed one of the intelligence reports (Intelligence Report 1) for the second time, Journalist 1 wrote to Frese on April 27, 2018, and asked whether he would be willing to speak with another journalist (Journalist 2). Frese stated that he was “down” to help Journalist 2 if it helped Journalist 1 because he wanted to see Journalist 1 “progress.”

As alleged, in that same communication, Frese and Journalist 1 also discussed a story that Journalist 1 was working on, the subject matter of which was the topic of Intelligence Report 1.  Several days after that communication, Frese searched on a classified United States government computer system for terms related to the topics contained in Intelligence Report 1.  According to the indictment, in the hours after searching for terms related to the topic of Intelligence Report 1, Frese spoke by telephone with both Journalist 1 (twice) and Journalist 2, and within approximately a half hour after Frese’s conversations with the two journalists, Journalist 1 published an article (Article 1) through News Outlet 1, which contained NDI from Intelligence Report 1 classified at the TOP SECRET//SCI level.

In addition, as alleged in the indictment, on Sept. 24, 2019, Frese was captured on court-authorized surveillance of his cell phone orally transmitting classified NDI to Journalist 2. These disclosures contained NDI classified at the SECRET level, meaning that the unauthorized disclosure of the information could reasonably be expected to cause serious harm to the national security of the United States.

“Henry Kyle Frese was entrusted with TOP SECRET information related to the national defense of our country,” said G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “Frese allegedly violated that trust, the oath he swore to uphold, and is charged with engaging in dastardly and felonious conduct at the expense of our country. This indictment should serve as a clear reminder to all of those similarly entrusted with National Defense Information that unilaterally disclosing such information for personal gain, or that of others, is not selfless or heroic, it is criminal.”

"Mr. Frese allegedly disclosed highly classified national defense information, which puts our country and people at risk," said Alan E. Kohler Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Washington Field Office Counterintelligence Division.  "He violated his oath to serve and protect the United States.  The men and women of the FBI work hard every day to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution - we will not stand by while trusted government employees violate that trust in such an egregious way."

A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging Frese with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Danya E. Atiyeh and Trial Attorney Jennifer Kennedy Gellie of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Attorney Pleads Guilty to Stealing $1.4 Million from Charity Founded to Help Veteran and Military Families


John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Brian C. Turner, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, announced that KEVIN E. CREED, 67, of Litchfield waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today in New Haven federal court to wire fraud related to a scheme in which he stole approximately $1.4 million from a charity he organized.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Creed is an attorney who operates Creed Law Firm in Bristol.  In 2010, Creed established a charity called the Friends of Fisher House Connecticut, which is a chapter of the national Fisher House Foundation, an organization that builds comfort homes on the grounds of military and Veteran Affairs medical centers where military veterans and their families can stay for no cost while undergoing treatment at Veteran Affairs hospitals.  The stated purported purpose of Friends of Fisher House Connecticut was to raise funds to support the building and maintenance of a Fisher House in West Haven.

Creed solicited donations for the Friends of Fisher House from corporations and individuals.  He solicited funds at fairs, carnivals and supermarkets, and also held fundraising events, including the Bristol half-marathon and a 10-kilometer foot race, based on the representation that the money raised would support the construction and operation of the West Haven Fisher House.  While Friends of Fisher House Connecticut made a $1 million donation in 2015 to assist with the financing of the construction of the Fisher House West Haven, Creed used his position to take approximately $1.4 million that had been raised for the organization and use it for both personal and law firm expenses.

Creed is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall on November 20, 2019, at which time he faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years.

Creed is released on a $100,000 bond pending sentencing.

This matter is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael S. McGarry.

U.S. Attorney Durham thanked the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney for its assistance in this matter.