Navy engineer with Secret clearance indicted after agents find Iranian passports and illegal money

Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division is located in Potomac, Maryland and consists of approximately 3,200 scientists, engineers and support personnel . Photo credit: Navy

A US Navy electrical engineer who works in the Washington D.C. Navy Yard for the Naval Sea Systems Command has been indicted on charges of using false identities to conceal his dual Iranian citizenship as well as receiving money from overseas.

James Robert Baker was born in Tehran, Iran and changed his name from Majid Karimi when he became a naturalized citizen in 1985.

He has been working for the Naval Sea Systems Command since 2006 but previously worked for the Naval Surface Warfare Center beginning 1985.  When he was hired he obtained a Secret clearance from the United Stated Department of Defense as it was required for his employment.

Baker was told by the Navy a couple weeks after 9/11 that new regulations prohibit individuals with security clearances to have foreign passports.  Within a week of his notification Baker allegedly traveled to Iran using his Iranian passport.  The Navy learned of his travels and immediately suspended his clearance and proposed an indefinite suspension from his department.

The next month Baker told the Navy he submitted his passport to the Iranian Interests Section of the Islamic Republic with a letter from his attorney that stated, “Mr. Majid Karimi is a United States Citizen and, as such, cannot possess a foreign passport.”

In August of 2002, Baker was granted a Secret clearance and returned to duty after an official Navy review.

According to the indictment, Baker did not cease the use of his Iranian name nor his citizenship.  He is accused of using fake social security numbers to set up bank accounts and transferring over $200,000 of foreign money to US bank accounts in his Iranian birth name. He then wrote checks from the accounts with his birth name to his US identity, James Robert Baker.

Baker allegedly even went as far as writing a letter to the Washington D.C. Navy Yard, under the identity of Majid Karimi, stating that he was “giving James Baker full use of my Honda Accord 2011…”  The Navy Yard requires its employees to drive cars registered in their name.

He is also accused of using his Iranian sister’s name to open an account at the Navy Federal Credit Union. He then had his employee salary direct deposited into this account—to avoid any tax withholdings and reporting under his real identity.  Baker frequently made ATM withdrawals and transferred funds to Baker identity.

Federal agents were able to surveil Baker accessing a security deposit box with four different social security cards. Two of them were registered to Majid Karimi—one in Pennsylvania and the other Maryland.  The other two were registered to James Robert Baker—one in Delaware and Pennsylvania.  In addition to the social security cards he had two Iranian passports—one expired and the other issued in 2012.

Baker was arrested by U.S. Marshalls at the beginning of February, 2015 after the federal indictment was filed. He was also put on a temporary work suspension pending the case’s outcome.

The Navy Times reached out to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia but they have declined to comment on the case.

At this time there is no evidence to suggest that Baker was receiving money for Navy secrets nor has he been charged with espionage.

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