Sergeant Arrested On Suspicion Of Espionage Moved To Military Prison
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A decorated Army sergeant arrested on suspicion of espionage was actually a ″mediocre soldier″ who had been demoted for repeatedly failing to show up for work on time, officials said.
Sgt. Daniel Walter Richardson was demoted one grade in August for repeated tardiness, said Lt. Col. Michael A. Linquist, commander of Richardson’s battalion.
Richardson had been a staff sergeant who worked as an instructor in the Tank Turret Division, training repairmen on M-1 and M-60 tanks, the Army’s main battle tanks. After his demotion, he worked behind a desk as a tool-room assistant, issuing work manuals and tools until his arrest this week.
Officials said Richardson had no access to classified information, yet they admitted that classified information was used during instruction.
″We don’t have anything classified,″ said Col. Ray E. McCoy, commander of the 61st Ordnance Brigade at Aberdeen. ″But we do have sensitive information that we wouldn’t want everyone to see.″
″He was what you call a mediocre soldier,″ McCoy added.
Richardson, meanwhile, was moved to a military prison to await arraignment. Lt. Col. John Ooley, a spokesman for the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, said Sgt. Daniel Walter Richardson probably would not appear for the hearing until early next week.
Army and FBI investigators are still reviewing his case and under military law, may take up to seven days before scheduling his appearance, Ooley said.
Pentagon sources speaking on condition of anonymity said Richardson had ″sensitive, but unclassified papers″ with him when he was arrested Thursday afternoon by the FBI.
Richardson came to a local hotel in Aberdeen thinking he had arranged a meeting with a Soviet official, the sources said. In reality, the role of Soviet official was played by an undercover FBI agent.
The Army sergeant had been under surveillance for ″a relatively brief time,″ said one official who requested anonymity.
″The FBI got on to him with a (telephone) tap. He tried to call the Russians,″ the official said.
Richardson was a repairman and instructor in the tank turret division of the Army Ordnance Center and School, which is located at Aberdeen.
The Aberdeen Proving Ground, located about 20 miles northeast of Baltimore, is a major center for military research and development and for the testing of arms, ammunition, missiles and vehicles. Some of its areas are highly classified.
Liz Sergeant, a spokeswoman at Aberdeen, said Richardson was transported without incident Friday afternoon to Fort Meade, which is located between Baltimore and Washington, because that fort has an Army prison facility.
The Army, meanwhile, assigned a military defense lawyer to Richardson and released a few additional details on his background. The defense lawyer was identified as Capt. David J. Heubeck.
According to a brief service record released by the Army, Richardson is 41 years of age - not 42 as the FBI originally reported - and lists his home as Oakland, Calif.
He entered the Army on March 27, 1968, and had worked as an armor crewmen and small arms repairman prior to becoming a tank turret repairman. Formally assigned to the 601st Ordnance Battalion at the time of his arrest, Richardson was divorced and lived in bachelor’s quarters on the base, the Army said.
The service said Richardson had served three tours in Vietnam during the war there, totaling 35 months.
Officials at Aberdeen said Richardson served several tours abroad, including 6 1/2 years in West Germany, where he worked in equipment maintenance immediately before coming to Aberdeen; almost three years in Vietnam; and 13 months in South Korea.
Richardson held a number of awards and commendations, including the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon and several awards for service in Vietnam - including the South Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm.
The New York Times quoted an unidentified source on Friday as saying Richardson had been motivated by money and ″revenge against the military.″
The Army declined to say whether Richardson had ever been court-martialed or disciplined.
With a date of entry into the service of March 27, 1968, Richardson was only two months away from being eligible to retire with a pension.