Former high-ranking FBI counterintelligence official Charles McGonigal has entered a guilty plea, admitting to concealing his interactions with foreign officials and receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from a former operative of a foreign intelligence agency.
McGonigal's guilty plea pertains to a single charge of concealing vital information and carries a potential penalty of up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. A sentencing hearing is slated for Feb. 16. In return for his admission of guilt, prosecutors have agreed to seek the dismissal of eight other counts included in the indictment, as reported by CBS News.
The 55-year-old McGonigal, former head of the FBI's counterintelligence division in New York, allegedly accepted funds from a former Albanian intelligence official and businessperson who became a key witness in one of McGonigal's foreign lobbying cases, reported The Hill.
Furthermore, prosecutors contend that McGonigal misled the FBI during his tenure with the bureau by withholding full disclosure of his international travels and interactions with foreign individuals.
According to the plea agreement, during a meeting with Albania's prime minister, McGonigal pressured the leader to refrain from granting oil drilling licenses to entities believed to be fronts for Russian interests. Prosecutors have asserted that the former intelligence employee and an adviser to the prime minister held financial stakes in the outcomes of Albania's decisions regarding these contracts, as reported by CBS News.
"I did not disclose these facts to the FBI," he admitted in court, characterizing his conduct as "inappropriate."
"I want to apologize to the FBI," McGonigal said Friday. "This is not a situation I wanted to be in or put them through."
McGonigal also pleaded guilty last month to separate charges in New York related to his work for a Russian oligarch.
In the New York case, prosecutors have alleged that McGonigal, during his tenure as the special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division in the FBI's New York Field Office, had ties to Oleg Deripaska, whom he had previously investigated. Deripaska has been subjected to U.S. sanctions since 2018, rendering any business dealings with him unlawful.
Following McGonigal's retirement from the FBI, prosecutors claim that he collaborated with a former Russian diplomat-turned-interpreter for U.S. courts in an unsuccessful attempt to advocate for the removal of sanctions against Deripaska. Additionally, the pair purportedly investigated a rival Russian oligarch on behalf of Deripaska while concealing the origin of Deripaska's financial contributions.
McGonigal is scheduled to be sentenced in the New York case on Dec. 14.
Jim Thomas is a writer based in Indiana. He holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science, a law degree from U.I.C. Law School, and has practiced law for more than 20 years.
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