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LANL worker found innocent in 2004 security breach

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By Carol A. Clark

An attorney for former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist John Horne issued a news release Tuesday saying his client has been vindicated of wrongdoing in the infamous missing CREM (Classified Removable Electronic Media) fiasco of 2004.Santa Fe attorney Timothy Butler stated that an arbitrator from the American Arbitration Association, after a full hearing on the merits, found Horne innocent of security violations that led to months of normal work suspension at LANL by former director G. Peter Nanos.Horne was accused of mishandling the CREM along with LANL scientist Todd Kauppila. Horne was placed on 10 days administrative leave and Kauppila, who also denied involvement, was fired. Kauppila died of hemorrhagic pancreatitis in 2005 before his case could be heard.Nanos reprimanded Horne for what turned out to be a record-keeping mistake made by a LANL classified matter custodian, Butler stated in the release. It was later determined the missing disks never existed. The arbitrator determined Thursday that no violation of procedure was committed by Horne and no security infraction was warranted.“I always knew I did nothing wrong,” Horne said in the release. “I followed the rules to the letter. It feels great to be proven right.” He went on to say, “It is demoralizing to be held up as a villain when you know you did nothing wrong. In my opinion, LANL’s actions cost me a 23-year career. Nothing can repair the damage they have done but this is a great moral victory and the truth is always worth fighting for.”Butler advised in an interview this morning that Horne cannot talk about the hearing until the award is made final. He indicated Horne will most likely be inclined to discuss the case at that time. Butler will make public a complete copy of the arbitrator’s findings at that time also, he said.“The arbitrator’s findings conclude that Horne should receive payment for lost wages, benefits and other relief resulting from the incident,” Butler said. “This is an interim award; the final award should come down in about 30 days. It will not be a significant amount.”In an interview this morning, LANL spokesman Kevin Roark said, “I think as a matter of course, we would respect the decision of the arbitrator and we wish John well.”Horne continued to work at the laboratory, Roark said, until January when he took the voluntary RIFF.