Court hears case of military intrigue, sex abuse, fraud

2014-04-05 | Sun Sentinel

April 05--A Palm Beach County man with a mysterious past is at the center of a federal investigation that includes allegations he stole thousands of U.S. military emails, was reading up on how to be a spy, tried to conceal large financial transactions and committed immigration fraud to help his wife get security clearance and an Army job.

Christopher Glenn, 33, of West Palm Beach, is also under investigation on accusations that he took several girls, ages 13 to 17, as wives while he was working as a private contractor for the U.S. military in Honduras. Prosecutors said they have witnesses who claim he sexually exploited six children there.

His wife, Khadraa Glenn, 27, is facing related charges including immigration fraud conspiracy and structuring financial transactions to conceal the movement of large amounts of cash.

U.S. Magistrate Judge William Matthewman ruled that Christopher Glenn is a "serious flight risk" and the evidence against him was substantial after he was arrested in late February. Khadraa Glenn was also deemed a flight risk and is jailed pending her trial.

Their most recent address was in Century Village in West Palm Beach, where they were believed to be staying with a family friend, according to public records.

In his order, the judge listed myriad concerns about Christopher Glenn's behavior and allegations that he has a long history of fraudulent and criminal conduct dating back to his time as a private contractor working in Camp Bucca in Iraq between 2007 and 2009, as well as in Honduras in 2012.

"lt appears that [Glenn] has lived a life of deception for many years," Matthewman wrote. "The Court is convinced that, if the defendant were released on any conditions, he would flee."

FBI agents and federal prosecutors allege that Glenn purchased books on "tradecraft" -- the art of espionage -- from in 2010 and 2011. They say he also used his employment as a private contractor with military security clearance to steal numerous emails and potentially sensitive information from Southern Command computer servers in Honduras.

Prosecutors conceded they have no evidence, at this stage in the investigation, that Glenn gave the military emails and documents to anyone.

Glenn's numerous ties to foreign countries and his many foreign bank accounts, his use of false identities and the disturbing allegations that he committed sexual offenses against six girls in Honduras also weighed heavily in the judge's decision to detain him.

Christopher Glenn is charged with eight counts including theft of government property, computer intrusion, structuring financial transactions and immigration fraud. Each of the charges carries a penalty of between five and 10 years in prison.

Though the allegations against Khadraa Glenn are less serious, prosecutors said in court that there were concerns about her conduct, particularly because she enlisted as a U.S. soldier.

Both Glenns deny the allegations against them, court records show. Phone messages seeking comment from their attorneys were not returned on Friday.

Trouble in Iraq

While many details of the couple's lives remain murky, federal prosecutors said the two got in trouble when they both worked as private U.S. contractors at Camp Bucca in Iraq, starting in 2007.

They later opened their own consulting company there, working for Iraqi companies, agents said. Army investigators said they committed fraud by giving Iraqi companies benefits that were intended only for Americans. They were also accused of impersonating government employees and Glenn was accused of hacking into U.S. databases for Iraqi companies.

The Army recommended prosecution but the Judge Advocate General declined to refer the case to civilian prosecutors because the alleged fraud was only about $17,000, according to court records.

Army investigators suspected Christopher Glenn used military computers to grant himself a higher level of security access and that he also elevated the level of access that Iraqi nationals had to the computer system -- without his superiors' permission.

Prosecutors said the immigration fraud began in April 2007, when the couple showed up at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney, Australia, and applied for an immigrant visa for Khadraa Glenn. She was born in Iraq but her family fled to Jordan as refugees and then to Australia, where she attended college. She became an Australian citizen and later a U.S. permanent resident, who sought U.S. citizenship.

Concerns emerged later about the accuracy of some of the documents the couple submitted and information they provided to immigration authorities, including questions about when Christopher Glenn had divorced his first wife and the legitimacy of the second marriage to Khadraa Glenn. The two claimed they met on a Muslim dating website around the same time Glenn was divorcing his first wife.

Law enforcement agents said they found transcripts of Google chats the couple exchanged between April and June 2010 discussing how Khadraa Glenn, who was working in Australia at the time for the Australian government, was seeking U.S. citizenship based on her marriage to Glenn but had no intention of returning to the U.S.

"They also discussed how [she] should conceal that she worked for the Australian government and that she had security clearance in Australia. During one chat, Glenn told [her husband] that her allegiance was to whichever country gave her a top security clearance, and [he] agreed with that statement," according to court records filed by prosecutors.

Later Google chats in 2012 showed the couple discussing how to get her a job with the CIA or a U.S. intelligence contractor so she could get a top secret security clearance, agents said. They also talked about her getting stationed in Lebanon, Turkey or Palestine.

Trouble in Honduras

Stephen D. Lucas, a spokesman for the Southern Command, confirmed that Christopher Glenn worked as an information technology contractor at Joint Task Force Bravo at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras for several months starting in February 2012.

"It is our policy to refrain from comment on active and ongoing law enforcement operations or legal proceedings," Lucas wrote in an email response to the Sun Sentinel's request for comment.

Born in the U.S., Christopher Glenn had a "secret" security clearance at the base where he worked as a computer network system administrator and software expert. The Task Force conducts military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Army investigators said they discovered that, between February and August 2012, Glenn used his job to gather classified emails -- without permission -- and transfer them on to a removable drive.

He also stored other secret files including emails and attached documents on his computer and overrode security protections to copy those files onto a DVD disk, according to court records. He also tried to hide that he had copied the files and the DVD disk has not been found, prosecutors said.

The private contract company he worked for, Harris Corp., fired him on Aug. 1, 2012, and Army investigators found evidence that he had deleted many files at the same time, right before his termination. They said they also found 3,000 unclassified emails from senior military supervisors on his computer.

Glenn flew back to the U.S. and, with his wife, began making large cash withdrawals -- of tens of thousands of dollars -- from their joint account at banks around Palm Beach County. Agents testified that those withdrawals were all under the $10,000 limit that would have to be reported to authorities.

Other allegations emerged later that Christopher Glenn had been exploiting children and was sexually involved with several young girls in Honduras. Investigators said that Glenn paid the girls' parents to let them become house servants, telling the parents he would marry them in a Muslim ceremony.

His home in Honduras was inside a walled compound with electronic surveillance and some of the girls have alleged that he drugged and raped several of them, prosecutors said.

Another man, an Iraqi native who is a New Zealand citizen, was arrested when he showed up to attend Christopher Glenn's March 4 appearance in federal court in West Palm Beach, records show.

Yarb Mwaffaq Jamel Al-Ethary, 28, is being held on immigration violations and is not fighting deportation but prosecutors say he may have important information about the sexual abuse allegations against Glenn. They are seeking to take a sworn statement from him about what he knows.

Khadraa Glenn gave up her Australian citizenship and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a cryptologist from February 2013 to March 2014, according to the judge's order.

She received top secret security clearance but left as the criminal investigation of the case began, according to court records. It is unclear from public records where she was stationed.

The judge also mentioned in his order that Glenn has used three aliases, including the name John Michael Derek and had two driver licenses in that name in Texas and California. He also has an extensive history of foreign travel and holds about $800,000 in eleven bank accounts overseas, including in Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Christopher Glenn is scheduled to appear in court on Monday for arraignment on the criminal charges, while the child exploitation investigation is continuing., 954-356-4533 or Twitter @SentinelPaula