Scientist who attempted to sell secrets to Venezuela to serve 5 years

FILE - This Oct. 22, 2009, file photo shows former Los Alamos National Laboratory nuclear physicist Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni on his back deck in Los Alamos, N.M. Mascheroni pleaded guilty to trying to help Venezuela develop a nuclear weapon was sentenced Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, to five years in prison and three years of supervised release. Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie Roxby Mascheroni, had pleaded guilty in 2013 to offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela through dealings with an undercover FBI agent posing as a representative of the socialist South American country. (AP Photo/Heather Clark, File)

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (KRQE) – The former Los Alamos scientist who pleaded guilty to trying to help Venezuela develop nuclear weapons has been sentenced to five years in prison, with three years supervised release.

A hearing went on all morning Wednesday in federal court in downtown Albuquerque.

Pedro Leonardo Mascheroni spoke in court in his defense. He was not apologetic, saying what he was trying to sell was “science fiction” to an undercover FBI agent who was posing as a representative of Venezuela.

Mascheroni and his wife, Marjorie, pleaded guilty to offering to help develop a nuclear weapon for Venezuela. His wife was sentenced to a year and one day in federal prison in 2014.

Mascheroni worked at Los Alamos National Lab from 1979 to 1988, and the feds say he tried to sell what he learned there to the South American country. Marjorie Mascheroni also worked at LANL as a technical editor from 1981 to 2010.

Before the sentencing, prosecutors played audio and video clips for the courtroom, where Mascheroni said he could deliver a nuclear bomb in 10 years to Venezuela.

In  undercover video from March 2008, Mascheroni also told an FBI agent that he would help Venezuela get 40 nuclear weapons within 20 years. He said he could explode a bomb over New York to knock out the city’s electrical system, but not hurt anyone.

“Nobody in the United States will know that I am using my brain helping the Venezuelan government,” Mascheroni said in one recording.

In another recording of a conversation with his wife, Mascheroni renounced his allegiance to the United States.

The prosecution asked the judge to give Mascheroni the maximum under his plea deal, five and a half years in prison. They said he was a risk to the U.S.

Mascheroni’s attorney asked for the lower end, 24 months, and said investigators gave him the opportunity to commit a crime.

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