Honolulu woman pleads guilty to removing classified info at embassy
A woman who worked for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command has pleaded guilty to removing classified documents from the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and keeping them at an unauthorized location, federal authorities announced Tuesday.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release that Asia Janay Lavarello, of Honolulu, admitted to removing U.S. documents having to do with national defense or foreign relations of the United States without permission while working at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.
She had been temporarily assigned to the embassy while working as an executive assistant for the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command based in Hawaii.
In March 2020, Lavarello allegedly took documents out of the embassy to her hotel room where she later hosted a dinner party. During the party, a co-worker discovered the documents, some of which were classified at the “SECRET” level, the DOJ said.
Following the discovery, her assignment at the embassy was terminated. When she returned to Hawaii, investigators said they found a notebook in her desk containing handwritten notes on information that was classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and “SECRET.” She also included information from these notes in emails from her personal Gmail account to her government email account, the DOJ said.
Authorities said Lavarello personally transported the documents to Hawaii and kept them in an unsecured location until at least mid-April 2020.
Lavarello faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. A federal district court judge will determine her sentence.