The former executive officer of a Navy ship pleaded guilty this week to distributing images of child sexual abuse and keeping classified material on a flash drive at his house.

According to a release from the Department of Justice, Lieutenant Commander Gregory McLean faces a mandatory minimum penalty of five years and up to 20 years in prison for the child exploitation offense and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for the retention of classified information offense.

McLean was the Executive Officer of a ship homeported at Naval Station Mayport in Florida, near Jacksonville, according to the DOJ. The release did not specify McLean’s ship but a 2020 Navy release said McLean was then the XO of the littoral combat ship USS Minneapolis Saint Paul, which is homeported at Mayport  (LCS-21). 

Authorities began investigating McLean, the DOJ said, after  state law enforcement in Rhode Island received a tip that a user of a messaging application had shared videos depicting the sexual abuse of young children.

After McLean as identified as the user, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service found more instances of McLean distributing the child sexual abuse material.

On Nov. 4, 2021, federal agents searched McLean’s home,where they seized electronic devices and storage media, several of which were found to contain images of child sexual abuse. 

The search also found a flash drive on McLean’s kitchen counter that contained “approximately 150 documents containing national defense information classified at the Secret level and 50 documents containing national defense information classified at the Confidential level,” DOJ said.

Two particular documents found on the drive contained information related to foreign governments and their combat aircraft and naval capabilities.

According to the 2020 Navy release, McLean was born in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba and graduated from Florida State University before joining the Navy.

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