A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employee offered to commit “treason and espionage” in exchange for $27.7 million and a promise of asylum in Germany, France, or China, according to a plea agreement filed Feb. 10 in Washington, D.C. federal court.
In a statement of offense attached to the plea, Brian J. Booth, who was assigned to the FAA’s Enforcement Division, admitted to disclosing U.S. secrets last year when he sent letters to the German, French, and Chinese embassies containing the names of pilots and mechanics who had been stripped of their operating certificates after being deemed security threats by the agency. Booth, 38, has worked as a legal assistant at the FAA since 2011, per FederalPay.org, and was responsible for sending out the revocation letters, the filing says. It is not clear if Booth is still on the federal payroll, but under the law, a conviction requires he be removed from his position. His court-appointed lawyer, Ubong Akpan, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The government’s affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Booth remains sealed, and a charging document filed in late January states only that Booth “did disclose in a manner not authorized by law, the identity of individuals who had their aircraft maintenance or piloting privileges revoked.” However, Booth’s recent plea reveals fresh details about his decidedly peculiar offense.