Shipyard worker’s foreign contacts get him in trouble

Pearl Harbor shipyard worker denounces anonymous claim of spying (Stars & Stripes)

A senior Pearl Harbor shipyard manager says he was falsely accused of espionage, taken off the job in March and has not been paid since July — even though an investigation cleared him of the “foreign influence” allegations.

Gerald “Gino” Palermo, a former submariner who has worked in the shipyard since 1981, most recently in the “Code 930” mechanical group as a process manager, said he was cleared in June of allegations involving contact with several Chinese women and a Japa­nese female.

But right before he was to return to work, an anonymous “tip” was made claiming he passed information to two of those Chinese women — one of whom he was dating, he said.

That tip resulted in no pay since July 19 and an investigation reopened, although a Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent said in late October that nothing “negative” was found, according to Palermo and his attorney.

“It’s a complete denial of due process to have an anonymous tip cause a favorable security determination to be entirely derailed and to cause the employee to now be out of work for more than half a year,” said Palermo’s attorney, Elizabeth Newman, a Washington, D.C.-based expert on security clearance law.

Palermo, 65, admits he met a Chinese woman in Bahrain in 2010, visited her in China that year and in 2011, sent her $7,500 and developed a “distant/romantic relationship” with the now 41-year-old woman.

The married man admits that on a visit to China in 2011, he met three women in a porcelain shop, sent them nuts and chocolate as presents and continued to stay in contact with one of them.

He also admits that when he was on a work assignment in Guam in 2009, he met a Japa­nese national who was a college student, later visited the woman in Japan and contacted her by Skype.

Navy officials know that because Palermo told them — as he was required to do on a security questionnaire in 2012.

“I did not realize that this involvement (with the Chinese woman) could be a security concern,” Palermo said in a statement to the Navy. “I thought that as long as I reported the relationship, it would not be a continuing problem.”

The Kaaawa man said his loyalty to the nation is “steadfast and uncompromising,” and when he found out the government’s concerns, he ended the relationships.

“I never, ever, discussed anything to do with work with any foreign national,” Palermo said.

Perhaps not surprisingly to others, given headlines of arrests for passing sensitive information — sometimes through a relationship — the contacts Palermo made became a huge problem for him. . . . . .  (read the rest)

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