Ex-Army engineer pleads guilty in NY to spy charge

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, December 30, 2008

NEW YORK – An 85-year-old former Army mechanical engineer pleaded guilty to conspiracy Tuesday and admitted he passed classified documents to the Israelis in the 1970s and ’80s.

Ben-ami Kadish told U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz he believed the government promised it would not seek a prison term when he is sentenced Feb. 13. Assistant U.S. Attorney Iris Lan said prosecutors promised only that they would not oppose or challenge a sentence that included no prison time.

Kadish, who lives in Monroe Township, N.J., pleaded guilty to only one of the four conspiracy charges he originally faced.

Kadish was accused of taking home classified documents from 1979 to 1985 when he worked at the Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, N.J. The government said he let an Israeli agent photograph documents, including information about nuclear weapons, a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet and the U.S. Patriot missile air defense system.

Kadish was born in Connecticut but was raised in what is now Israel. He told the judge that he provided the documents for the benefit of Israel and did not receive or request anything of value for the classified documents.

Kadish said he supplied the documents to Yossi Yagur, the Israeli government agent who requested them.

Yagur, retired and living in Tel Aviv, is the same agent who obtained information from convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for selling military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the Navy. Pollard’s case damaged U.S.-Israeli relations and remains a sore point between the countries.

Outside court on Tuesday when Kadish was asked if he was hopeful the spy case was over, he said, “I hope so.” His wife told him not to say any more.