Former CIA Director David Petraeus is expected to avoid prison time after acknowledging mishandling classified materials. ALEX WONG / Getty Images

Adam Goldman and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

Posted: Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 1:08 AM
WASHINGTON - David Petraeus, the retired general and former CIA director, has reached an agreement with federal prosecutors to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge for mishandling classified materials, a deal that brings an end to a lengthy investigation. The deal, if approved by a judge, will spare Petraeus a prison sentence and allow him to avoid a trial that probably would have revealed details of his relationship with his former mistress and biographer, who was the recipient of the classified material in question.

As part of the agreement, Petraeus admitted improperly retaining a number of bound notebooks containing sensitive national security information and giving them to the biographer, Paula Broadwell. According to documents filed Tuesday in federal court in North Carolina, Petraeus initially lied to FBI investigators, telling them in an interview at CIA headquarters that he had never provided Broadwell with classified information.

"The statements were false," prosecutors said in the court documents. "Defendant David Howell Petraeus then and there knew that he previously shared the black books with his biographer."

Prosecutors will not seek prison time. Instead they will ask a judge to impose a probationary period of two years and make Petraeus pay a $40,000 fine. It is unclear whether Broadwell will face charges. Attorneys for Petraeus and Broadwell declined to comment.

The probe had become a subject of political intrigue in Washington, with questions on whether the government would prosecute a retired four-star general.

Although Petraeus provided Broadwell with eight black books, as they are known, to help her write his memoir, prosecutors said her book, All In: The Education of General David Petraeus, did not contain classified information.

Public reaction to Petraeus' plea deal was muted.

Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the general had "apologized and expressed deep regret for this situation, and I believe it is time to consider this matter closed."