Saturday, November 18, 2017
Military News

MacDill trespasser spent weekend in congressman's office in 2003

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TAMPA — Suzanne M. Jensen apparently doesn't find post-Sept. 11 government security as daunting as most Americans.

The homeless woman charged with sneaking into MacDill Air Force Base four times since 2012 was arrested by U.S. Capitol police in 2003 after she thwarted security and spent a weekend in a congressman's office.

The arrest wasn't mentioned Wednesday during a brief hearing in Tampa where a federal judge ordered a mental competency hearing for Jensen for the MacDill charges for Aug. 21.

That's Jensen's 51st birthday.

Capitol police said Jensen simply walked into the unlocked office of Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., at the Capitol's Longworth building during business hours on a Friday in 2003. Nobody spotted her.

Jensen wasn't disturbed until Sunday afternoon, published reports of the incident said, when a staffer for Nunes couldn't get into the office.

Jensen had locked the door. The staffer called police.

"We know she must have been there quite awhile because she ate everything we had in the refrigerator," Nunes told the Visalia (Calif.) Times-Delta.

Jensen was charged with unlawful entry, according to 2003 stories by the Times-Delta and USA Today. The disposition of the case could not be immediately determined.

Federal prosecutors charged Jensen in June for trespassing on MacDill four times since Oct. 1. In one instance, Jensen told security officers she entered the high-security installation by simply using an overturned trash can to climb a wall.

But Jensen wasn't arrested on a federal warrant for those charges until July 29 by the El Paso County Sheriff's Office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Details about how deputies found Jensen were unavailable, said sheriff's officials there.

Jensen is being held without bail pending her competency hearing. A federal prosecutor told federal Magistrate Judge Anthony Porcelli that she had reason to believe Jensen wasn't able to understand legal proceedings against her.

Jensen's public defender, Stephen Baer, told the judge that the case may have "national security implications." But he did not explain, and lawyers declined to comment afterward.

Jensen has a history of entering military bases. In August 2012, she pleaded guilty to trespassing for illegally entering Fort Myer in Virginia. She was sentenced to time served. In 2007, she was charged with illegally entering Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, both in North Carolina. Charges were later dismissed.

Why Jensen traveled to Colorado is a mystery.

Colorado Springs happens to be the home of the U.S. Air Force Academy, the alma mater of MAcDill commander Col. Scott DeThomas.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. William R. Levesque can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3432

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