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Marine colonel accused of leaking secrets to L.A. Sheriff's Department has died

July 20, 2010 |  8:38 am

A Marine colonel at the center of a court-martial case about leaking secret intelligence information to civilian law enforcement agencies has died,  the Marine Corps announced Tuesday.

Larry Richards, a Marine reservist and a retired detective with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, died Saturday of natural causes. He had been scheduled for an Article 32 hearing, akin to a preliminary hearing.

The case involves allegations that Marines working for Richards in the intelligence division at Camp Pendleton gave him classified documents about purported terrorism threats so that he could share them with an anti-terrorism task force organized by the Sheriff's Department.

Richards, in his civilian job as a sheriff's detective, was a co-founder of the task force, based in Norwalk.

Richards, 52, died at his home in Lake Arrowhead after staying in a hospice with brain, kidney and liver ailments, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and the county coroner.

The Terrorism Early Warning Group, formed in 1996, was meant to bring together intelligence analysts from local, state and federal agencies. However, Marines were not authorized to share intelligence documents, including some from the CIA, with the group, according to military prosecutors.

In May, a Marine major charged in the case pleaded guilty to dereliction of duty and conduct unbecoming an officer and was given a reprimand and ordered to forfeit $6,000 in pay. Three enlisted Marines have been convicted in the matter.

-- Tony Perry in San Diego