Former FBI Official Sentenced for Concealing Cash Payments from Albanian Intelligence Officer

Former FBI official Charles McGonigal is set to be sentenced on Friday for concealing at least $225,000 in cash payments he received from a former Albanian intelligence officer. McGonigal, the former top counterintelligence official at the FBI’s New York office, pleaded guilty in September to one count of hiding the payments from the FBI. The government is seeking a 30-month prison sentence and a $95,000 fine.

McGonigal’s guilty plea led to the dropping of charges related to his failure to disclose his overseas travel to meet with foreign government officials and businesspeople while employed by the FBI. In December, he was sentenced to over four years in prison for his involvement with a sanctioned Russian oligarch and close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prosecutors in Washington argued that McGonigal’s actions suggest he was compromised and that his employment after retirement from the FBI was not his only motivation. The FBI had to review numerous investigations he had knowledge of to determine if they had been compromised, resulting in a significant expenditure of governmental resources.

McGonigal’s lawyer claimed that his client’s omissions were done to conceal the fact that he had launched a business networking plan, including obtaining a $225,000 loan, before retiring from the FBI.

McGonigal’s downfall began in 2017 as he prepared for retirement. He asked the former Albanian intelligence officer, who had become a naturalized U.S. citizen, for a loan as they discussed business opportunities. The loan was never repaid, and the two traveled to Albania and other countries where the individual had business interests, meeting with foreign nationals on multiple occasions.

During one of these trips, McGonigal met with the prime minister of Albania to warn against awarding lucrative oil drilling licenses to Russian front companies, in which the former intelligence officer had a financial interest. As a gesture of appreciation, McGonigal gifted the prime minister an FBI hat. He also traveled to Kosovo, collecting information potentially useful to both the FBI and his undisclosed personal business development plan.

In a parked car outside a New York restaurant, the former intelligence officer handed McGonigal about $80,000 in cash as part of the loan. Two more payments were made at McGonigal’s New Jersey home. At McGonigal’s urging, the FBI opened an investigation into an American lobbyist working for a political opponent of the Albanian prime minister, with the former intelligence officer serving as an FBI source. The investigation was closed after McGonigal retired, as the allegations were never substantiated.

McGonigal’s charges in the New York case also involved the concealment of payments. He admitted to assisting Oleg Deripaska in gathering information on a rival Russian oligarch and laundering money by concealing the source of the payments, in violation of U.S. sanctions imposed on Deripaska in 2018.

McGonigal expressed regret for his actions, acknowledging that his pursuit of post-retirement financial gain had overridden his judgment and values. His wife, Pamela, wrote a letter to the federal judges in Washington and New York, attributing his actions to ambition and a desire to provide a good life for their family.

Author: CrimeDoor

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