Charles McGonigal, a former senior FBI agent, appears to be close to entering a plea to charges related to his alleged employment of a sanctioned Russian tycoon.
According to a judge’s order from Monday, retired special agent McGonigal, who oversaw the FBI Counterintelligence Division in New York, “may wish to enter a change of plea.” The order designated the following week as the “plea proceeding” in New York.
At the time of his arrest in January, McGonigal, 54, had previously entered a not-guilty plea to the accusations against him in Manhattan and Washington, D.C. He had also been freed on a $500,000 personal recognizance bond. If proven guilty, McGonigal may spend a lifetime behind bars.
A New York-based indictment from the Department of Justice accuses McGonigal and former Soviet/Russian diplomat Sergey Shestako of violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, as well as of conspiring to commit money laundering and money laundering.
Specifically, the pair were accused of violating U.S. sanctions “by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, a sanctioned Russian oligarch,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement in January. “They both previously worked with Deripaska to attempt to have his sanctions removed, and, as public servants, they should have known better. This Office will continue to prosecute those who violate U.S. sanctions enacted in response to Russian belligerence in Ukraine in order to line their own pockets.”
McGonigal was indicted in D.C. for allegedly hiding $225,000 in cash from a former Albanian intelligence agent who later turned FBI informant.
“Covering up your contacts with foreign nationals and hiding your personal financial relationships is a gateway to corruption,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves said at the time. “The FBI should be commended for handling the delicate and difficult task of investigating a former executive. This investigation demonstrates their commitment to act as an impartial enforcer of the law. The FBI and the Department will guard the best interests of the United States and hold to account those who make false statements and try to deceive the Bureau.”
Seth DuCharme, McGonigal’s attorney, stated in a recent status call in the D.C. case that there was a “decent chance the case is going to be resolved” without having to go to trial, according to CNN. McGonigal’s legal team has not yet responded to the judge’s order.