Ex-FBI leader sentenced to 50 months in Russia case

 December 16, 2023

An ex-FBI counterintelligence leader was sentenced to 50 months in prison over supplying information to a Russian leader.

Charles McGonigal, 55, was given the sentence by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York.

The crime

"After he had retired from the agency, McGonigal violated U.S. sanctions when he supplied information to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in 2021, officials said," according to NBC News.

"The information McGonigal collected was open-source information, he said in a plea agreement. In exchange, McGonigal received $17,500 from Deripaska, laundered from Gazprom Bank in Russia to Cyprus to a business bank account in New Jersey and then McGonigal’s private account, he told the court," it added.

McGonical's regret

"Before his sentence was handed down on Thursday in New York, McGonigal expressed regret over his actions, BBC News reported.

"I committed a felony and as a former FBI special agent it causes me extreme emotional and physical pain," he told Judge Jennifer Rearden. "I stand before you today with a deep sense of remorse."

The prosecutors speak

"Although the first task Deripaska assigned his new recruit may not have appeared particularly nefarious, McGonigal was hoping to do millions of dollars in future work for the oligarch," the prosecutors said.

"McGonigal was selling something just as useful to America's enemies as military grade technology: The "erosion … in any rule of law" that ensues when a nation's counterintelligence professionals begin 'operating at the behest of the highest bidder,' to use McGonigal's description of his own crimes," they noted.

The sentence was less than the five years recommended by prosecutors in the case but resulted in a significant verdict against one of the highest level FBI staff to be sentenced for a crime.

No mention was made regarding an appeal.

The latest decision shows deep concern remains over connections between former FBI staff and Russian leaders as the nation seeks to put a stop to the wrongful sharing of information.

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