Nghia Hoang Pho, Elite
Developer Took Secret
December 4, 2017
Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, of Ellicott City, Maryland, pleaded guilty
to willful retention of national defense information.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J.
Boente, Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen M. Schenning for the
District of Maryland and Special Agent in Charge Gordon B.
Johnson of the FBI’s Baltimore Field Office made the
According to his plea agreement, beginning in April 2006, Pho
was employed as a Tailored Access Operations (TAO) developer for
the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA's TAO involved
operations and intelligence collection to gather data from
target or foreign automated information systems or networks and
also involved actions taken to prevent, detect, and respond to
unauthorized activity within Department of Defense information
systems and computer networks, for the United States and its
In connection with his employment, Pho held various security
clearances and had access to national defense and classified
information. Pho also worked on highly classified, specialized
projects. According to the plea agreement, beginning in 2010 and
continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained U.S.
government documents and writings that contained national
defense information, including information classified as Top
Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information. This material
was in both hard copy and digital form, and was retained in
Pho’s residence in Maryland.
District Judge George L. Russell has scheduled sentencing for
April 6, 2018 at 10 a.m.
Pho faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The maximum
statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided
here for informational purposes. If convicted of any offense,
the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court
based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory
Acting Assistant Attorney General Boente and Acting U.S.
Attorney Stephen M. Schenning commended the FBI and the NSA for
their work in the investigation. This case is being prosecuted
by national security prosecutors in the District of Maryland and
the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the
Justice Department’s National Security Division.