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Former FBI spy hunter sentenced to 4 years for taking money from Putin crony in Russia sanctions case

Charles McGonigal, once special agent in charge of a counterintelligence division in New York, took money from Oleg Deripaska in exchange for information on a rival.
Image: Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal arrives at Manhattan Federal Court in New York, on Feb. 9, 2023.
Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal arrives at Manhattan federal court in New York on Feb. 9.Yuki Iwamura / AFP - Getty Images file

A former FBI special agent who headed a counterintelligence division was sentenced to more than four years in prison Thursday for supplying information to a Russian oligarch in violation of U.S. sanctions, prosecutors said.

Charles McGonigal, now 55, was sentenced to 50 months in prison, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said.

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.

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.

While at the FBI, McGonigal was special agent in charge of a counterintelligence division in New York. He left the agency in 2018.

Deripaska, an associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has a net worth that’s been estimated at more than $3 billion. He was sanctioned by the U.S. in 2018, and he has been criminally charged in the U.S. for violating the sanctions.

“Charles McGonigal violated the trust his country placed in him by using his high-level position at the FBI to prepare for his future in business,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Once he left public service, he jeopardized our national security by providing services to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian tycoon who acts as Vladimir Putin’s agent.”

When McGonigal pleaded guilty, he said he was “deeply remorseful” and took “full responsibility and never intended to hurt the U.S., FBI or my family.”

In a statement of responsibility submitted to the court in advance of his sentencing, McGonigal wrote that “my actions taken for the purpose of making money post-retirement from the FBI overrode my good judgment and values.”

“I am truly sorry for this as it minimized all I have done in honor of my service to the U.S. Government, specifically, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI,” he wrote.

McGonigal pleaded guilty in August to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to commit money laundering, according to a plea agreement in the case.