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Army astronaut accused of committing crime in space is cleared; ex-wife charged with making false statements

The ex-wife of an Army helicopter pilot and astronaut has been charged with making false statements to authorities after she alleged the Army officer unlawfully accessed her bank account from the International Space Station, federal prosecutors said in an indictment unsealed Monday.

The case was unusual in that it made Lt. Col. Anne McClain the first person to be investigated for a crime alleged to have been committed in space. Now, the estranged wife who made the allegations is facing charges.

The ex-wife, Summer Worden, a 44-year-old former Air Force intelligence officer, faces a two-count indictment by a federal grand jury in Houston, Texas, issued in late February that was unsealed this week.

The indictment alleged that Worden filed a false complaint against McClain to the Federal Trade Commission in March 2019. Then, she again made a false statement in an interview with NASA investigators in July 2019, the indictment further alleged.

Worden originally complained that McClain had stolen her identity by accessing her bank account during McClain’s six-month mission aboard the International Space Station.

Worden maintained multiple bank accounts at USAA Federal Savings Bank that she initially shared with McClain, but Worden changed her account logins to prevent McClain from accessing them, she told investigators. Worden and McClain married in 2014 and filed for divorce in 2018.

“There’s unequivocally no truth to these claims," McClain said in a statement over Twitter in August 2019 when the allegations arose. "We’ve been going through a painful, personal separation that’s now unfortunately in the media. I appreciate the outpouring of support and will reserve comment until after the investigation. I have total confidence in the [inspector general] process.”

Investigators determined Worden had actually opened the account earlier than she told them and did not change her login credentials until late January 2019, months after she initially claimed.

Worden told the New York Times she mistakenly gave investigators the wrong dates, but later provided them with the correct information. She said it was her intent to change the password, but was not sure if she had followed through.

Worden is expected to make her initial appearance in court on April 13. If convicted, Worden could face up to five years in prison on each count and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

McClain is a West Point graduate who became an OH-58D Kiowa scout helicopter pilot and flew more than 800 combat hours during the Iraq War. She joined NASA in 2013. McClain most recently served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 58 and 59.

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