A former scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was sentenced to five years in prison on Wednesday for passing secret U.S. nuclear weapons data to a person he believed to be a Venezuelan government official, the FBI said.
Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni, 79, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Argentina, pleaded guilty in June 2013 to several espionage-related offenses stemming from an undercover sting operation, according to the FBI and court records.
He will be placed on three years of supervised release after serving his five-year prison term, a federal judge ordered.
His wife, who is 71, was previously sentenced to a year in prison and three years of supervised release for her role in the same case, the FBI said.
Mascheroni, a physicist, worked from 1979 to 1988 at Los Alamos, a U.S. government facility where the first atomic bomb was developed and which still conducts nuclear weapons research. His wife, who did technical writing and editing, worked there from 1981 to 2010.
According to the indictment returned against them in 2010, the couple conspired to participate in the development of an atomic bomb for Venezuela, and the scientist told an undercover FBI agent posing as a Venezuelan official that he could help the Caracas government obtain such a weapon within 10 years.
The indictment did not allege that the Venezuelan government or anyone acting on its behalf sought or received any classified information in the Mascheroni case or participated in any other wrongdoing, the FBI said.