On Thursday, a former senior FBI counterintelligence official was sentenced to more than four years in prison for violating sanctions against Russia by working for a Russian oligarch who was seeking information on an affluent competitor after he retired from government.
Judge Jennifer H. Rearden, sitting in Manhattan federal court, imposed a four-year and two-month prison term on Charles McGonigal, as POLITICO reported.
McGonigal, according to Rearden, compromised national security by willfully disregarding sanctions intended to exert economic pressure on Russia in order to achieve desired outcomes outside the use of military force, and he was fined $40,000.
She imposed the sentence after a prosecutor framed McGonigal's crime as a ruthless money grab in which he used his FBI career knowledge to cultivate ties with billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska, a notorious Russian oligarch.
The judge said in her ruling that the sanctions were intended to exert economic pressure on Russia in order to achieve objectives without resorting to military force.
Because of Russia's seizure of Crimea, Deripaska, who is a Russian oligarch and billionaire, has been subject to sanctions imposed by the United States since 2018.
When McGonigal was given the opportunity to speak, he expressed feelings of regret, saying he had a "deep sense of remorse and am sorry for my actions" while speaking to the judge.
He added, “I recognize more than ever that I’ve betrayed the confidence and trust of those close to me,” he said. “For the rest of my life, I will be fighting to regain that trust.”
At the time of his plea in August to a single count of conspiring to launder money and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
McGonigal was allegedly also attempting to assist Deripaska in removing himself from the sanctions list.
Additionally, prosecutors claim that McGonigal was in negotiations with other conspirators to collect a fee ranging from $650,000 to $3 million in order to search for electronic files that would identify concealed assets worth $500 million that belonged to the oligarch's business opposition.
The federal court in Washington, District of Columbia, has also charged McGonigal, who resides in New York, with hiding at least $225,000 in cash that he allegedly received from a former Albanian intelligence official while he was employed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
McGonigal served as the special agent in charge of the counterintelligence section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in New York from 2016 to 2018.
It was under his supervision that investigations were conducted into Russian oligarchs, notably Deripaska.