Former scientist may reverse plea in nuclear-secrets case

A former Los Alamos National Laboratory physicist accused of supplying classified weapons information to an undercover federal agent may try to reverse his guilty plea in court.


Leonard Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, pleaded guilty in June to federal charges accusing them of helping Venezuela build an atom bomb, National Journal reports.


Mascheoni's attorney filed paperwork on Nov. 27 to withdraw his plea, which included a letter written by the defendant to the judge. The 35-page letter included some classified information, and requested the appointment of a new public defender. Mascheoni requested the letter remain sealed because it contained his defense strategy.


The couple is back in prison following a revoke of the conditions for release by federal District Judge William Johnson. It was reported that Johnson feared Mascheoni still had access to classified information while on pretrial release, according to the National Journal.


Mascheroni worked at the Los Alamos' nuclear weapons design division from 1979 to 1988. His wife worked as a technical writer there between 1981 and 2010.


Mascheroni faces up to five and a half years in prison with 10 years of supervised release under the plea agreement. His wife faces up to two years in prison and nine years of supervised release, National Journal reports.