Former FBI Agent Admits Payment From Foreign Sources In Plea Deal

Former FBI agent Charles McGonigal pleaded guilty to one count of concealing material facts on September 22 after admitting to accepting $225,000 from an Albanian individual whom McGonigal was working with while employed by the department. The guilty plea comes as McGonigal was facing nine counts that alleged the former agent did not report payments and misled the department about his purposes in foreign travel.

McGonigal explained that the payment was a loan he was using to establish a private security firm with the unnamed Albanian intelligence officer. McGonigal intended to start the firm after leaving the FBI and explained that he did not report the money because it was illegal.

McGonigal pleaded guilty to additional charges in New York last month resulting from his off-the-books work with a Russian oligarch.

McGonigal was a senior agent with the FBI and oversaw the department’s counterintelligence division. He met the Albanian individual while investigating foreign lobbying efforts. According to the indictment against McGonigal, he failed to properly disclose trips to Europe he took with the Albanian officer which were intended to set up the business.

In exchange for his guilty plea to the charge of concealing the payment, the remaining eight charges against McGonigal were dropped. While the charge he pled guilty to carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, it is expected that he will receive a more lenient sentence.

McGonigal also saw several charges against him dropped with his earlier guilty plea to conspiracy. That case involved a scheme McGonigal was involved in with a Russian oligarch who was under sanctions by the U.S. The former agent unsuccessfully attempted to get sanctions lifted in 2019. According to prosecutors, McGonigal began working for the oligarch in 2021 and was attempting to find political dirt on a rival.

McGonigal apologized to the FBI for his behavior and actions after entering his most recent plea. He faces a sentence of up to five years in the first case against him in addition to the possible sentence following the most recent plea.

McGonigal was identified by the FBI after a ramp-up in investigations following the illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia in 2022. The department sought to shut down backdoor channels oligarchs were using to evade sanctions. The oligarch for whom McGonigal worked is an aluminum magnate and was seeking advantages over his rival, the world’s largest producer of palladium and refined nickel.

McGonigal will be sentenced for his actions with the Russian oligarch on December 14 and will face sentencing on February 16, 2024, for the second plea. McGonigal retired from the FBI in 2018.