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*SECURITY VIOLATIONS, MISUSE OF COMPUTER SYSTEMS, MENTAL HEALTH, and SEXUAL CONDUCT*
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “K” and “B” (July 20, 2020)
Our client in this matter was a U.S. Army Major accused of presenting a security risk due to vague allegations of mishandling classified information, and because his spouse was originally from a foreign country. We raised significant due process concerns about vagueness (i..e the right to notice) of the classified information allegations. We also demonstrated, however, that what we assumed to form the basis for the claims had been dramatically misconstrued by security officials. We further documented the innocuous circumstances behind our client meeting his wife; pertinent aspects of her background that undercut the potential for foreign influence; and the fact that client’s deep and longstanding ties in the United States significantly outweighed any foreign ties. After careful consideration of our case, the government opted to withdraw its case against our client based solely on the written SOR response. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “D” and “J” (April 23, 2020)
Our client, a decorated U.S. Army officer, was accused of soliciting prostitution on several occasions overseas. Although this is traditionally a challenging fact pattern, we made a strong case for mitigation through the effective presentation of the client’s then-existing circumstances. We also highlighted the client’s subsequent reformation, including his attendance at both personal and marital counseling; the efforts taken to eliminate the potential for blackmail; and other mitigating and “whole person” information that demonstrated these lapses of judgment were dated, circumstantial aberrations – not evidence of a current national security risk. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “K” and “M” (April 9, 2020)
Our client in this matter was a DoD civilian employee accused of loading derivatively classified information onto an unclassified computer system then failing to follow instructions from security officials. We prepared an aggressive defense that highlighted the highly technical nature of the issue; the lack of security training on the specific issue; the fact that our client had never previously worked with classified information; and the fact that our client’s non-compliance with instructions was a result of a panicked misunderstanding instead of a purposeful effort. We further demonstrated that the case appeared to be an effort to shift blame for a lack of training from management to our client, and that favorable “whole person” evidence clearly indicated our client posed no national security risk. Following a written response to the Statement of Reasons, DoD opted to withdraw the case against our client.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “M” (March 27, 2020)
Our client in this matter was a DoD contractor accused of intentionally violating his employer’s security rules on removable media (thumb drives). In our client’s defense, we demonstrated that the circumstances under which the violation occurred were extremely unusual; that the client was actually attempting in good-faith to mitigate a more serious security issue; but that the client nonetheless recognized his error. We presented live testimony of two witnesses plus additional evidence of good character. Coupled with a persuasive closing argument, our evidentiary efforts carried the day. Security clearance retained.
UNDISCLOSED FEDERAL AGENCY; GUIDELINES “D”, “K”, and “M” (January 6, 2020)
Our client in this matter was a federal employee accused of viewing pornography on his government computer and emailing sensitive (but unclassified) documents to his personal email so that he could work on them at home. After interviewing the client, our attorneys determined that this out-of-character behavior was caused by a confluence of extraordinarily stressful family dynamics. The situations were unlikely to recur, the client had obtained appropriate counseling intervention, and we obtained a favorable psychological report from a renowned psychologist. Our thoughtful and thorough defense succeeded in obtaining a reinstatement of the Client’s security clearance within weeks.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “I” (September 18, 2019)
In this matter, we represented a DoD civilian employee accused of having a mental health condition that adversely impacted her ability to safeguard classified information. The client was also accused of being in denial of her diagnosis and thus not in compliance with treatment recommendations. We immediately undertook to have the client evaluated by an expert witness psychologist who is a noted authority in his field. Following the results of the evaluation, we were able to demonstrate that the claims being advanced by the government’s expert misconstrued key facts and did not constitute the appropriate medical standard of care. Our expert found that the client’s purported “denial” of her condition was not as the government claimed; that the client was in compliance with her treatment recommendations; and that she posed no risk under the circumstances. Security clearance retained following a robust legal and factual defense to the Statement of Reasons (SOR).
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY; GUIDELINES “D” and “J” (September 10, 2019)
Our client in this matter was an intelligence agency contractor accused of admitting to undiscovered criminal conduct during a polygraph examination. The specific allegations were sexual in nature and required the involvement of a noted psychologist in our defense efforts. Despite what initially appeared to be a challenging case, we prepared a robust defense that demonstrated the client’s purported statements lacked critical context and were the product of a highly aggressive (coercive) examination. Our medical expert reinforced our defense with an assessment that the client was not a sexual predator and was highly unlikely to have engaged in the charged behavior. The result was an overturning of the initial revocation decision at the first level appeal.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “E” and “K” (April 18, 2019)
In this matter, we represented a DoD civilian employee accused of bringing a prohibited electronic device into a SCIF and misusing a government vehicle for personal business. We prepared a comprehensive defense for this client by first researching and determining that the electronic device in question lacked key capabilities that would normally render it a prohibited item. We then demonstrated that the client’s employer had failed to adequately train and/or warn employees about their obligations inside the SCIF, and that the client’s use of the government vehicle was reasonable and proper given the relevant context. Combined with a strong whole-person case, our defenses on the merits succeeded in successfully rebutting a Statement of Reasons and getting this client back to work in a matter of just a few weeks. Security Clearance retained.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY; GUIDELINE “K” (January 8, 2019)
Our client in this matter was an intelligence agency contractor accused of committing some half dozen security violations pertaining to the protection of classified information. We successfully argued that the violations were marginal, at best; caused predominantly by the client’s youthful age and excitement/pride in the work he was doing; and that substantial evidence existed of subsequent maturation and growth into his current job, where he was excelling. Despite this particular agency’s notorious culture of secrecy, our strong whole-person case carried the day and saved this patriotic young man’s career. Clearance denial reversed.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AGENCY; GUIDELINE “M” (December 4, 2018)
In this matter, we represented an intelligence agency contractor accused of committing a litany of computer security violations while employed previously at a different federal agency. Because of the volume of the allegations — which the client had self-reported during a polygraph examination but subsequently recanted — as well as the client’s apparent nervous personality, we suspected that this may have been a case of a polygraph examiner exerting undue influence on an individual whose personality type made him more prone to suggestion and leading questions than the average individual. This is a common situation among those working in highly technical fields, so we immediately had the client engage an expert psychologist for an evaluation. The evaluation reinforced what we already suspected: that the client’s personality type was simply not compatible with the type of aggressive interrogation he underwent. This resulted in a “fight or flight” response of false admissions of misconduct. We submitted the evaluation results along with a strong factual rebuttal of the allegations themselves, demonstrating successfully that they were wildly inflated and/or de minimus in nature. The agency agreed to overturn the initial denial at the first level.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; PPD-19 WHISTLEBLOWER REPRISAL CASE (September 5, 2018)
Our client in this matter was a decorated Air Force Major who reported life-threatening vulnerabilities in military software to DoD leadership. His claims were substantiated by an Inspector General’s investigation, but he was subsequently retaliated against by his command with suspension of security clearance for purportedly making vague “threatening statements”. We filed a whistleblower reprisal complaint with DoD’s Consolidated Adjudications Facility (CAF) and Inspector General (IG), documenting in relevant detail the client’s protected disclosures, applicable law, and the transparently retaliatory nature of the command’s case. In just 30 days, we succeeded in having the client’s security clearance (and paycheck) restored, and the client being reinstated to full duty. An IG investigation remains ongoing at this time; upon substantiation of reprisal, the client will be entitled to additional relief such as back pay and attorney fees.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “K” (June 28, 2018)
In this matter, we were privileged to represent a DoD civilian employee accused of confessing to numerous security violations during a polygraph examination with another agency. Among the client’s purported transgressions were sharing classified information with other cleared employees who lacked a “need to know”, and failing to report security negligence on the part of his cleared girlfriend. Our attorneys mounted an aggressive defense to these charges. We demonstrated that several of the allegations against our client were not, in fact, sustainable allegations under the Adjudicative Guidelines. We next presented evidence that critical portions of the admissions had been taken out of context and/or grossly overblown. Finally, we provided substantial evidence of this client’s high moral character and his commitment to protecting classified information. The result was a successful rebuttal of all allegations with only a written response to the Statement of Reasons. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; PPD-19 and EEO RETALIATION CASE (February 23, 2018)
In this matter we were privileged to represent – for the third time – an honorably discharged and disabled USMC veteran now working as a DoD civilian employee. The government alleged that our client had exhibited concerning evidence of a mental disorder; but, in fact, objective information proved that the government’s entire case was a sham vehicle for unlawful whistle-blower retaliation (and the third time, no less!). We aggressively attacked the allegations against our client with the help of a VA psychologist, highlighted the outrageous and redundant nature of the charges, and presented strong evidence that our client was the target of his superiors for filing an EEO complaint regarding their unlawful failure to provide reasonable accommodations for his disability. Security clearance retained; PPD-19 case pending.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “K” ALLEGATIONS PENDING (December 8, 2017)
Bigley Ranish, LLP was retained by the defense team in an extremely high profile criminal case, after the government alleged that defense attorneys had mishandled classified information. With a potential case-ending conflict for our clients looming, we aggressively attacked the government’s own misconduct in the matter, demonstrated the irrationality of the allegations against our clients, and ultimately convinced the government to withdraw all administrative charges against our clients on the eve of a motion hearing on the matter. Security clearances retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “D” (November 8, 2017)
In this matter, we were privileged to represent a senior DoD technical expert making exceptional contributions to the U.S. national defense. Regrettably, this individual had demonstrated a lapse of judgment in soliciting prostitutes four times between 2009 – 2011, including once while overseas. We prepared a strong case for mitigation that included the client’s unusual life circumstances at the time, his subsequent evidence of personal growth, and facts that established a lack of blackmail potential. The stakes were high for this client, as the loss of security clearance would have irreparably damaged his career potential in a niche field. Fortunately, our attorneys succeeded in establishing that the client’s past indiscretions no longer posed a unacceptable risk to national security. Security clearance granted.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; SUBSTANTIATED PPD-19 CASE (September 25, 2017)
Bigley Ranish, LLP is proud to announce a major victory for our client, U.S. Secret Service Senior Special Agent Robert MacQueen. For the past three (3) years, we have represented SSA MacQueen in a whistleblower retaliation case filed under PPD-19. This week, the DHS Office of Inspector General substantiated our claims, recommending that MacQueen be awarded massive damages, including back pay and attorney fees. Notably, this is the first time in DHS history that OIG has substantiated a PPD-19 claim.
It is our privilege to represent SSA MacQueen and other whistleblowers in PPD-19 cases throughout the government.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “M” and “K” (August 14, 2017)
In this matter, we were privileged to represent a DoD contractor and first generation immigrant from Iran accused of presenting a security risk due to continued ties to that country. Specifically, it was alleged that the client’s parents and siblings continue to reside in Iran and that the client had exhibited foreign preference by obtaining an Iranian passport to visit her family. Subsequent to the hearing in this matter, SEAD 4 came into effect, thereby significantly altering the legal landscape as it pertained to foreign passports. Our attorneys filed a post-hearing motion for relief, which resulted in the government dropping the Guideline C allegations. As a result of our aggressive trial advocacy, the DOHA judge then determined that any risk to national security posed by the client’s relatives in Iran was significantly outweighed by her strong and longstanding (13 years) ties in the United States – including her marriage, other family, finances, and professional ties. Security clearance granted.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “I” (July 12, 2017)
In this matter, we represented a DoD employee accused of sexual misconduct with an animal, as admitted during a polygraph examination with an intelligence agency. DoD alleged that the conduct — which occurred two decades prior, when our client was a child — placed our client’s psychological stability into question and potentially represented a blackmail risk. Our attorneys prepared a strong response that highlighted our client’s own sexual victimization at a young age, and the extent to which his behavior was “acting out” in an attempt to process what had happened to him. Testimony by a psychologist specializing in sexual offenses significantly bolstered our case and confirmed that the client’s past childhood actions were not reflective of his current mental stability. A comprehensive “whole-person” assessment, combined with proprietary efforts to mitigate the blackmail potential, rounded out our case. Despite the unusual nature of the allegations, we succeeded in convincing the government that our client posed no security risk at this late date. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “K” (June 7, 2017)
In this matter, we represented a DoD contractor accused of negligent security habits; specifically – taking a phone into a SCIF on four (4) separate occasions pre-2015. Our attorneys reviewed the government’s case and assessed several weaknesses. We then crafted a highly effective defense strategy focusing on the extensive security training our client had taken in the last two years, his lack of any subsequent violations, and his prompt self-reporting of each incident. The lack of any classified information spillage in this case, combined with an extensive portfolio of favorable character evidence, rounded out our discovery efforts pre-hearing. Although a hearing date was actually assigned, we ultimately succeeded in convincing the government to withdraw the case just weeks before trial. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “D”, “J”, and “I” (April 17, 2017)
Our client in this matter was a DoD civilian employee accused of presenting a security risk due to a variety of sexual misconduct perpetrated a decade prior as a juvenile. While we conceded that the client’s conduct was unsavory, our attorneys discovered – with the help of an psychologist specializing in sexual offenses – that the client’s actions were actually juvenile efforts to process his own childhood sexual abuse. Upon receiving psychological treatment, the client had learned healthy coping mechanisms and had ceased acting out. Four (4) independent government-retained psychologists agreed with that assessment, each of whom concurred that the client posed no present security risk. Nonetheless, DoD CAF’s Navy Division persisted in claiming that the client’s sexual misconduct could never be rehabilitated – essentially, divorcing the ‘what’ from the ‘why’. After a three year odyssey, multiple supplemental Statements of Reasons, and a DOHA hearing, our client finally received a favorable decision from the Navy PSAB that recognized his reformation. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY; GUIDELINE “I” (February 6, 2017)
Our client in this matter was a U.S. Department of Energy employee charged under Guideline “I” with mental and/or emotional stability that purportedly rendered her incapable of safeguarding classified nuclear information. With the assistance of a renowned psychologist, our attorneys quickly determined that the government’s case was baseless and, in fact, appeared to be retaliatory. We presented our concerns to opposing counsel during a pre-trial conference and obtained several key concessions that further weakened the government’s case. Ultimately, it became clear that no security issue was present. The government opted to withdraw the case against our client without the need for a hearing. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “E”, “K”, and “M” (January 11, 2017)
In this matter we represented a high-ranking DoD civilian employee accused of a litany of unusual integrity and security violations spanning 15 years. A truly bizarre case, the Statement of Reasons tested the ability of our attorneys to isolate key issues and effectively challenge them. Nonetheless, Bigley Ranish LLP attorney Aileen Xenakis worked extensively with the client to gather key evidence that would refute the charges. Combined with strong legal arguments under the Guidelines, as well as our signature “whole person” assessment, our defense eviscerated the allegations against the client and resulted in the government withdrawing the case without the need for a hearing. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “I” (December 8, 2016)
We were privileged to represent a DoD civilian employee accused of having a mental condition that could impair her ability to safeguard classified information. We responded aggressively to the allegations with the assistance of an expert witness psychologist and favorable testimony from our client’s chain of command. As a result of our efforts, we were successful in proving that our client’s condition is well-managed, that she is compliant with her treatment program, and that she poses absolutely no threat to national security. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “I” (October 12, 2016)
We were privileged to represent a disabled Marine Corps veteran whose security clearance was called into question under the rarely used Guideline I (Mental Health). We represented this client previously over a year ago and were successful in getting his security clearance reinstated. Unfortunately, the client’s supervisor – who had reported the original baseless allegations against our client – refused to accept the government’s favorable determination. Instead, he once again called into question our client’s mental health on dubious grounds, this time in apparent retaliation for an EEO case our client filed against him. Within five (5) business days of the client retaining us, our Attorneys were able to get the client’s security clearance reinstated, get the client returned to full duty, and get the client’s supervisor removed from the client’s chain of command. Security clearance retained.
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY; GUIDELINES “K” and “M” (October 2, 2016)
Our client in this matter was a National Security Agency (NSA) contractor accused of admitting to numerous security violations during a polygraph interview. At first blush the case appeared to be challenging; however, we quickly determined that there was more here than met the eye. Specifically, we discovered that the client had been previously diagnosed with severe anxiety and that the polygraph examiner had been inappropriately aggressive (as many NSA and CIA polygraph examiners are).
We mounted a multi-pronged response to the charges that included an evaluation by an expert witness psychologist with experience evaluating intelligence community personnel. The psychologist determined that our client’s anxiety had manifested itself during the polygraph to such an extent that it literally resulted in a false confession. We were then able to back-up that assessment with factual evidence confirming that the client could not possibly have committed the security violations alleged. Although we had to fight this case all the way to the NSA’s Access Appeals Board (AAB), we ultimately prevailed for our client. Security clearance retained.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “K” and “M” (July 13, 2016)
Our client in this matter was a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL accused of mishandling classified information — a serious security violation that nearly caused his separation from the service. We prepared a strong case for mitigation that we presented in a formal hearing before a DoD Administrative Judge. Ultimately, the Navy’s Personnel Security Appeals Board agreed with our contention that this isolated mistake was outweighed by the client’s broader track record of good judgment and selfless service. The client was allowed to retain his security clearance and his commission.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY; CRITERION “F”, “H”, and “L” (May 17, 2016)
Our client in this case was a DOE employee accused of criminal conduct, intentional falsification of documents, and mental health defects that purportedly made him unfit for continued access to classified and/or nuclear material. Agency security officials made clear that they were on a uniquely personal mission to destroy our client’s career. This was truly a case of unprofessional conduct and retaliation by agency security officials like nothing we have ever seen.
We aggressively attacked the government’s Statement of Reasons (the equivalent of an indictment in a criminal case), forcing the government to withdraw literally seven (7) counts in the SOR before trial due to lack of evidence. We then highlighted grossly inappropriate conduct on the part of agency security officials – including a potentially criminal violation of the Privacy Act – and obtained numerous items of evidence that blatantly contradicted the charges against our client. At trial, we compelled our client’s primary accuser to testify under subpoena. Based on our cross examination of the accuser, the judge concluded that her testimony “was not credible.” The government’s expert witness psychiatrist was similarly cross-examined, resulting in him literally reversing his diagnosis on the witness stand. Ultimately, the judge issued an 18 page opinion that completely vindicates our client. You can read it here.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINE “I” (October 30, 2015)
We represented a U.S. Navy employee charged under the rarely used Guideline “I” (Emotional, Mental Health, and Personality Disorders) with exhibiting signs of mental instability that made him unfit to possess a security clearance. We aggressively attacked the government’s case by highlighting the unfounded nature of the evidence and the obvious smear campaign being waged against our client by his superiors. After eight (8) months of litigation, the government finally conceded that the case could not stand. All charges were withdrawn and the client was returned to full duty.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “G” and “I” (August 24, 2015)
Our client in this case — a Facility Security Officer (FSO) for a defense contractor — was accused of alcoholism and severe mental health disorders. With the assistance of two expert witnesses, we: rebutted the opinion of the government’s own psychiatrist, proved that the Client’s alcoholism is in full, sustained remission; and proved that the mental health problems were a byproduct of the alcohol abuse – not independent issues. Clearance retained.
NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY; GUIDELINES “D”, “J”, and “E” (August 10, 2015)
In this matter, we represented an NSA clearance holder in fighting major sexual misconduct allegations. Purported admissions were falsely imputed to our client by the outrageous misconduct of an Agency polygraph examiner. To make our case, we were required to address head-on the faux “science” of the polygraph, which we did by using our deep technical expertise and the assistance of an expert witness. The result was an overturning of the denial decision at the first level.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; GUIDELINES “K” and “M” (August 4, 2015)
We were pleased to represent a DHS applicant accused of multiple serious security violations in a prior position. Despite what appeared to be a challenging case, we successfully proved that the conduct was an anomaly – not a pattern – and was blown out of proportion by the employer. Clearance granted just one (1) day after submission of our SOR response.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “D,” “K,” and “M” (May 29, 2015)
We represented a DOD employee accused of having a sex addiction that caused him to repeatedly view inappropriate content on his government computer. This was a challenging case, however we prevailed with thoughtful legal strategy and the assistance of an expert witness. Our client was thrilled to have his clearance restored in just weeks.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE; GUIDELINES “K” and “M” (May 13, 2015)
Our client, a Facility Security Officer (FSO), was accused by the Defense Manpower Data Center (the operator of the “JPAS” system) of multiple security violations. These included accessing user profiles without authorization, misuse of the system, and failing to follow DSS policy. The client’s JPAS access was summarily suspended, effectively barring him from working while the wheels of bureaucracy slowly turned. That’s when we got involved. After multiple failures by DMDC to expedite the case, we were forced to threaten litigation. We presented irrefutable evidence that the agency’s information was grossly inaccurate, resulting in all charges against our client being withdrawn. The JPAS program manual was later changed as an apparent direct result of our case.
FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY; GUIDELINES UNKNOWN (April 10, 2015)
We were privileged to represent a dedicated federal employee who had wrongfully been denied a promotion on purported security grounds. When the employee questioned the situation, the agency refused to provide her the reasons for the denial or afford her the requisite due process to fight them. That’s when we intervened. Just one week and one inquiry letter later, the agency suddenly reversed course and granted our client her promotion. The name of the agency is withheld due to the sensitivity of this case.
*Each case is unique. Representations of past success are not a guarantee, warranty, or prediction of future results. Cases involving multiple guidelines are reported under each guideline.