The former head of counterintelligence for the FBI’s New York field office pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of conspiracy in connection to a scheme working for a sanctioned Russian oligarch in 2021.
Charles McGonigal, a 22-year veteran of the FBI who retired in 2018, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and money laundering, per a plea deal struck with prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
The disgraced former FBI ranking official was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in January and charged in two separate indictments in New York and Washington, DC, for allegedly working with the sanctioned Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and concealing hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from a former employee of an Albanian intelligence agency while he was a top official at the bureau. McGonigal’s attorney Seth DuCharme recently indicated to a federal judge in Washington that they may resolve the Albania-related case by the end of the month.
In court on Tuesday, McGonigal answered a series of questions about the illegal scheme for Deripaska and his mental competency before District Judge Jennifer Rearden accepted his guilty plea.
“Mind is clear,” he told the judge, saying he feels “great.”
In court, McGonigal, 55, said he is “deeply remorseful” for his actions.
“I appear before you in this court to take full responsibility as my actions never intended to hurt the United States, the FBI and my family and friends,” he said, at times appearing emotional.
“I agreed with another party to collect open source derogatory information about a Russian oligarch named Vladimir Potanin who was a business competitor of Oleg Deripaska,” he said. “I knew Deripaska had been put on a sanctions list by the US government. It was my understanding that the information I collected ultimately would be used to try to get Potanin on the US sanctions list.”
“I understood that the work I was conducted would provide some benefit to Deripaska and under the US law, I was not supposed to provide any service to Deripaska, even indirectly,” he continued.
McGonigal now could face up to a maximum five-year term in prison for the one count he pleaded guilty to Tuesday, Rearden said in court.
He is scheduled to be sentenced December 14.
His attorneys indicated they will ask the judge to consider a classified proffer of information about McGonigal’s work for the US government before imposing his sentence.
This story has been updated with additional details.