Citing Clinton, sailor seeks leniency in submarine photos case By Josh Gerstein 08/15/16 06:26 AM EDT Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, faces sentencing on a charge of retaining national defense information without authorization. | Defense filing via U.S. District Court of Connecticut A Navy sailor facing the possibility of years in prison for taking a handful of classified photos inside a nuclear submarine is making a bid for leniency by citing the decision not to prosecute Hillary Clinton over classified information authorities say was found in her private email account. Petty Officer First Class Kristian Saucier, 29, is set to be sentenced Friday on a single felony charge of retaining national defense information without permission. In May, Saucier pleaded guilty in federal court in Bridgeport, Conn., admitting that while working on the U.S.S. Alexandria in 2009 he took and kept six photos showing parts of the sub's propulsion system he knew to be classified. The defense and prosecutors agree that sentencing guidelines in the case call for a prison term of 63 to 78 months, but defense attorney Derrick Hogan cited the treatment of Clinton as he argued in a filing last week that Saucier should get probation instead. "Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Secretary of State Hilary [sic] Clinton...has come under scrutiny for engaging in acts similar to Mr. Saucier," Hogan wrote. He noted that FBI Director James Comey said 110 emails in 52 email chains in Clinton's account contained information deemed classified at the time, including eight chains with "top secret" information and 36 with "secret" information. "In our case, Mr. Saucier possessed six (6) photographs classified as 'confidential/restricted,' far less than Clinton's 110 emails," Hogan wrote. "It will be unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid." There are distinctions between the cases. Saucier admitted as part of a plea bargain that he "knew from his training and his specialized work upon the submarine" that the photos contained classified information and he wasn't authorized to take them. He also admitted that after being confronted by law enforcement in 2012 he destroyed a laptop, camera and memory card. Clinton has said she didn't know any information on her server was classified, although Comey has said anyone in Clinton's position "should have known that an unclassified system was no place" for some of the subjects being discussed. While Clinton had tens of thousands of emails erased from her system in 2014, she did so with the advice of lawyers and before the FBI investigation was underway. Saucier's drive for leniency may ultimately benefit more from the treatment of some of his fellow submates than from the handling of cases involving Clinton or other prominent officials. Hogan cites incidents involving two other Navy sailors on the Alexandria who were caught taking photos in classified spaces on the vessel. One received a one rank reduction and was docked $560 in pay. The other was just docked $560 in pay. Both cases were handled through a Captain's Mast hearing used for relatively minor cases. Letters submitted on Saucier's behalf attempt to shift some of the blame to the Navy, both over the command climate for junior sailors on the Alexandria and lax policies in that era towards electronics on subs. "We worked them too hard, we didn't give them as much time off as we should have, we didn't treat them with the dignity and respect that they deserved, and we never let off. Ever," wrote retired Chief Machinists Mate Scott Nelson, who worked with Saucier on the Alexandria. "The men were showing signs of cracking left and right...The human pieces of the machine were being pushed past their limits." "I believe that we, the leadership own a significant portion of the blame for creating the environment where these men thought this was a good idea," Nelson added. Another former colleague of Saucier's, Ryan Meldrum, called Saucier a "war hero" and wrote that the case should have been handled in the Navy by bumping the sailor down a rank. "I am sorry to see that this is taking up time in Federal District Court, but I pray that this can be disposed of so as to not dissuade other patriots such as Kris from serving our great country," said Meldrum, who recent graduated from Pace University law school. "Kris does not deserve what he is going through....If you look at the Navy records you will see countless mishandling classified material cases where many people are still in the Navy and many more where people were asked to get out," added Mark Robb, another former submate who said he was pushed out of the Navy over a similar incident in 2014. Some submitting letters on Saucier's behalf attribute the relatively tough treatment he seems to be receiving to "serious" allegations his ex-wife leveled at him early in the investigation. Saucier's defense disputes a probation officer's conclusion that the sailor intended to share some of the photos with "foreign agencies," an allegation that prosecutors have not made publicly. Still, court records show the probation officer is recommending Saucier receive less than the five-year, three-month sentence called for by federal guidelines. The precise recommendations from the probation official and prosecutors have not been made public. Saucier remains in the Navy, but expects to be dismissed from the service with an "other than honorable" discharge, the defense filing said.