The Cash Fueled Double Life of Charles McGonigal, FBI’s New York Spy Chief

After his secret girlfriend tipped off the authorities, McGonigal was arrested over ties with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska in Jan 2023. As Chief of FBI’s Counterintelligence in New York, Charles McGonigal had near limitless access to US secrets.

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This week we tell the story of a top FBI agent, Charles McGonigal, and his ties with Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Putin and the former employer of Paul Manafort, Trump’s 2016 campaign chair. If you like our content, please become a patron to get all of our episodes ad free. 1

McGonigal took $225,000 in secret cash payments from someone who had served as an Albanian intelligence officer. McGonigal concealed that relationship, as well as his meetings with Sergey Shestakov, from the Bureau. FBI’s New York Chief of Counterintelligence also had an extramarital affair with a woman named Allison Guerriero, who later became Rudy Giuliani’s house guest and biggest supporter. The events are reminiscent of the Aldrich Ames and Robert Hansen spy cases. 2

During his time with the FBI, McGonigal led the WikiLeaks investigation into Chelsea Manning, and oversaw the search for a Chinese mole inside the CIA.

McGonigal was arrested In January 2023 at Kennedy International Airport. Shestakov was arrested at his US home in a simultaneous operation. Both men are accused of receiving payments through shell companies and forging signatures to conceal the fact that Deripaska was paying them. [^3]

They have both been charged with money laundering charges, in addition to charges for violating sanctions. Each of these counts carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. 3

1. Mattathias Schwartz. Exclusive: The FBI's McGonigal labyrinth. Business Insider. Feb 2023. 

2. Mattathias Schwartz. Inside the extramarital affair and cash-fueled double life of Charles McGonigal, the FBI spy hunter charged with taking Russian money. Insider. Jan 2023. [^3] Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum. Former Senior F.B.I. Official in New York Charged With Aiding Olig:arch. New York Times. Jan 2023. 

4. Craig Unger. Did the FBI’s Charles McGonigal Help Throw the 2016 Election to Trump?. New Republic. Feb 2023. 

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