Russian-Linked Ex-FBI Agent Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy

( – A former FBI agent has pleaded guilty to concealing $225,000 in payments from a man with Albanian intelligence connections while he was head of counterintelligence operations in Europe. Charles McGonigal admitted to a federal court in Washington, DC, that he had made fraudulent statements about the cash and falsified records. He also pleaded guilty to one count of concealment of material facts.

statement from the Department of Justice said McGonigal covered up a relationship with an ex-foreign security officer and businessman with ongoing commercial interests in several foreign countries, particularly in Eastern Europe. It notes that he took cash from this individual and accompanied him on several foreign trips.

The press later identified the intelligence official in question as Agron Neza, a businessman who lives in New Jersey.

A statement to the court revealed a complex web of networks in Albania, including with Prime Minister Edi Rama. McGonigal said he advised Rama not to award contracts to a Russian firm, which in turn benefited another official working for a Chinese firm and a friend of McGonigal’s.

This is not the first time the former federal agent has faced a criminal indictment. In January, he was arrested on federal charges of violating US sanctions on Russia, money laundering, and making false statements.

That case began in 2018—the year McGonigal retired from the FBI—when British intelligence informed the FBI that McGonigal was meeting with a Russian official in London. He was accused of accepting secret payments from Putin-connected oligarch Oleg Deripaska to investigate a rival.

FBI assistant director in charge of New York, Michael Driscoll, said, “Russian oligarchs like Oleg Deripaska perform global malign influence on behalf of the Kremlin,” before adding that McGonigal had “acted on behalf of Deripaska and fraudulently used a US entity to obscure the activity.”

US District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly will sentence Mr. McGonigal in February, and he is facing a potential five-year prison term.

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