PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Fred Arena, 41, of Salem, New Jersey, was sentenced to six months’
imprisonment and two years’ supervised release by United States District Court Judge John R. Padova for making false statements to government agents.
Arena, who was an employee of a federal contractor at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and as such was required to obtain a federal security clearance, lied to obtain the clearance. He also subsequently lied to federal investigators who asked him about his answers to questions on the security clearance paperwork. He was arrested and detained in October 2019, and pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2019.
On January 10, 2019, Arena completed the standard Form SF-86 to obtain a federal security clearance for his employment. On that form, he was required to disclose whether he had ever been a member of an organization that used (or advocated the use of) force or violence to prevent others from exercising their constitutional rights. He falsely answered that he had not. In fact, Arena was an avowed member of Vanguard America, a white supremacist group that fits that description. His membership in Vanguard America and his participation in their activities were demonstrated by his many admissions and photos on social media, including events surrounding the 2017 ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. On the same application, Arena was asked whether he had had property repossessed within the past seven years. He falsely answered that he had not. In fact, Arena had previously defaulted on a car loan, and his car was repossessed within the seven year window.
As part of his sentence, the Court specifically ordered that Arena shall, during the period of supervised release, be barred from membership and participation in any organization that advocates or practices unlawful acts of force or violence to discourage others from exercising their rights under the United States Constitution or any state of the United States.
“Lying on federal security clearance forms and to government agents are very serious matters,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Further, no employee working for the federal government, being paid with taxpayer dollars, has any business being a member of a white supremacist group or espousing white supremacist views. Under the terms of today’s sentence, Arena’s activities will be closely monitored by the Court and Probation after he finishes his jail term in order to prevent him from engaging in new criminal behavior that may violate the civil rights of others and endanger the public.”
“Fred Arena lied about being a white supremacist to land a security clearance and government job he never should have had,” said Tara A. McMahon, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “When the FBI questioned him about his background, he continued this pattern of deception. There must be serious consequences for actively deceiving federal agents. Otherwise, critical investigations would grind to a halt, hobbling our justice system and giving criminals and terrorists the upper hand.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency, the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, the Salem County Prosecutor’s Office, the New Jersey State Police, the Camden County Police Department, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, with assistance from the Philadelphia Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Joseph LaBar and Assistant United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey Martha Nye.