JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska — An Alaska-based military policeman will serve 16 years in prison and will be dishonorably discharged for selling military secrets to a Russian agent, who was an undercover FBI agent, a military panel decided Monday.
A panel of eight military members from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage recommended a 19-year sentence for Spc. William Colton Millay, but that was dropped to 16 years because of a pretrial agreement. He will receive credit for the 535 days he’s been jailed since his Oct. 28, 2011, arrest. The panel also reduced him in rank to private and he will forfeit all pay and allowances.
Millay pleaded guilty last month to attempted espionage and other counts. A sentencing panel of male military members began deliberations late Monday afternoon.
Military prosecutors painted Millay as a white supremacist who was fed up with the Army and the United States, and was willing to sell secrets to an enemy agent, even if that would cost his fellow soldiers their lives. Defense attorneys said Millay was emotionally stunted, was only seeking attention and was a candidate for rehabilitation.
Millay’s attorney, Seattle-based Charles Swift, said they understand and accept the sentence.
However, “We do intend to seek further clemency as this case goes forward for the reasons that were set forth in the trial: his mental state, his emotional age, and the motivation for it, and the circumstances.”
Monday’s proceedings were like a mini-trial conducted in front of the sentencing panel, with both sides calling two witnesses.
FBI Special Agent Derrick Chriswell said Millay came to their attention in the summer of 2011 through an anonymous tip after Millay sent an email to a Russian publication seeking information about the military and made several calls to the Russian embassy.
“That’s a concern for national security,” Chriswell said.
The FBI, working with military intelligence agencies, conducted the investigation. On Sept. 13, 2011, an FBI undercover agent called Millay and set up a meeting the next day at an Anchorage hotel restaurant.
Chriswell testified that during the first meeting with the agent that day, Millay “expressed his disgust with the U.S. military.” They then moved to the agent’s hotel room, where audio and video recording devices were in place.
Millay said he’d work for the Russian government, and if they made it worth his while, he’d re-enlist for a second five-year stint. He also said he had confidential information on the Warlock Duke jamming system the U.S. military uses to sweep roadside bombs.
Two days after that meeting, Millay reported to his commander that he had been contacted by a Russian agent. He was later interrogated by military intelligence officers and the FBI, but prosecutors say Millay was merely trying to throw off suspicion.
Chriswell said Millay, during the interrogation, withheld information that officials already knew from the recordings. That included a claim that he didn’t know why a Russian agent would contact him, his claim to the agent that he had access to Social Security numbers of people on base because of his police job and that he had sent her an earlier text claiming he had more information on the jamming system.
He was arrested Oct. 28. A search of his barracks found two handguns, detailed instructions on how to use a Russian Internet phone service and literature from the white supremacist organization, the National Socialists Movement.
Chriswell also testified that Millay has two Nazi SS thunderbolt tattoos under his biceps and spider web tattoos, which he said was common among racists in prison.
“He branded himself in their symbols of hate,” military prosecutor Capt. Stewart Hyderkhan said in his closing statement, arguing for at least 25 years in prison. “He had hate for the Army. He had hate for the United States.”
Swift, Millay’s attorney, argued that the Nazi movement and Russia don’t exactly have a lot in common, and that Millay had once been married to a Filipino.
Defense witness Dr. Veronica Harris, a psychiatrist, testified Millay had the emotional capability of a 5-year-old and suffers from low self-esteem, mild depression, alcoholism and narcissism.
Millay offered an unsworn statement to the court, in which he said, “This has destroyed me.”
“I know I’ve made a terrible mistake,” he said, also fighting back tears. “I’m a U.S. soldier, and that piece of me, I’m proud of.”
Millay spoke of his demon within.
“It has taken me three years to come to grips with who he is,” he said. “He’s my worst enemy; my worst enemy is myself.”
Hyderkhan said that wasn’t remorse, especially since jailhouse recordings show he threatens to continue to divulge secrets.
Swift, in his closing statement, argued that eight years was punitive enough and would provide time for rehabilitation.