(AP) A journalist pleaded guilty Monday to impersonating federal officials to get documents in a case against two Japanese scientists accused of stealing research material.
Avi Lidgi, 27, of the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, falsely identified himself in three telephone calls May 17 to get a list of the government’s exhibits faxed to him, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
Lidgi pretended to be a federal prosecutor and an assistant to a federal judge, and got the secret list from prosecutors and defense attorneys. He faces up to three years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 at his sentencing on April 12.
Lidgi was a staff member of the Los Angeles bureau of the newspaper, which has more than 10 million subscribers. The newspaper issued a statement saying it prohibits employees from falsely identifying themselves and that the reporter acted on his own.
In the espionage case, Hiroaki Serizawa, a researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and former Cleveland Clinic scientist Takashi Okamoto are accused of stealing biological materials used for research on Alzheimer’s disease from the hospital.
Serizawa and Okamoto have both pleaded innocent, and their trial is scheduled to begin in May.