Thu. Feb 22nd, 2024

Angle down icon An icon in the shape of an angle pointing down. Charles McGonigal, seen here in front of a New York courthouse before his guilty plea last month, admitted to more crimes in Washington DC.. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images A disgraced ex-FBI agent just pleaded guilty in a second criminal case against him. Charles McGonigal, once a top intelligence operative in NYC, admitted he hid $225,000 in secret payments. McGonigal previously pleaded guilty to helping a sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Charles McGonigal, the former FBI spyhunter whose indictments shocked the intelligence community, has again pleaded guilty — this time to hiding secret payments from a man with connections to Albanian intelligence.

McGonigal admitted in Washington DC federal court to one count of falsifying records and making false statements about the $225,000 he got while working sensitive cases for the FBI. 

The disgraced FBI special agent pleaded guilty to one count of concealment of material facts as part of a deal with federal prosecutors.

McGonigal has now admitted to illicitly working for Oleg Deripaska — a sanctioned Russian oligarch with longstanding ties to Vladimir Putin — after leaving the FBI. He has also admitted to taking cash payments and undertaking private business efforts in Albania while he was still in a senior position at the FBI’s New  York Field Office.

What remains unclear is whether McGonigal and Deripaska had any contact while McGonigal was still employed by the bureau. The FBI’s investigation began after British authorities learned that McGonigal was secrety meeting with a Russian oligarch in London in 2018, the same year he retired.

In court on Friday, McGonigal said that the $225,000 was lent to him by a “friend and prospective business partner” and that the money was intended to help start a business that he was setting up without the FBI’s knowledge while still working for the bureau. That individual has been identified by several news outlets as Agron Neza, a former Albanian intelligence official who now lives in New Jersey. Neza’s loan to McGonigal, delivered in three cash payments, had no written terms and was never paid back. McGonigal’s former girlfriend has told Insider that she observed some of the cash in a bag on the floor of their Brooklyn apartment.

The money had “no conditions or strings attached” in the words of Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly. According to a statement of the offense, the money was connected to a web of relationships he developed with Albanian officials, including Prime Minister Edi Rama. McGonigal agreed that he had counseled Rama to avoid awarding state energy contracts to Russian companies, advice that benefited another Albanian official who was working for Rama as an informal advisor even as he consulted for a Chinese energy company. That official was a friend of the person who had lent McGonigal the money. 

In court, McGonigal described this conflicted intermingling of public and private interest as his “personal business development efforts.”

Seth DuCharme, one of McGonigal’s attorneys, told reporters outside the courthouse that his client wanted to “hit the ground running” with his business efforts after retiring from the bureau in September 2018. 

McGonigal was indicted twice in January — once in Washington DC and also in New York — after a grand jury investigated the ex-counterintelligence chief. Insider was first to report on the grand jury investigation which led to written questions to the FBI from members of both parties on Capitol Hill.

McGonigal was charged with money laundering and making false statements in his required employee disclosures as an FBI agent, Insider previously reported.

In addition to the Washington, DC, case, McGonigal faced charges in New York for working with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, which violated sanctions against the Putin-aligned billionaire.

McGonigal pleaded guilty last month in the New York case to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to violate sanctions. His sentencing is scheduled for December 14.

He is scheduled to be sentenced in Washington on the concealment charge on February 16, 2024.

You can read the statement of facts that McGonigal agreed to as part of his guilty plea below:

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