August 15, 2023 – Disgraced FBI official McGonigal pleads guilty to extorting Russian oligarch; Federal charges for extorting Albanian oligarchs still in limbo

In Email/Dossier/Govt Corruption Investigations by Katie Weddington

McGonigal and Rama graphic (Credit:

(…) Enter the plea deal granted to Charles McGonigal, the rogue senior agent whose last assignment before retiring in 2018 was serving as the counterintelligence boss of the bureau’s powerful New York Field Office.

In a Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, the disgraced McGonigal pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to violate international sanctions on a notorious Russian oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, and committed money laundering. Although these are serious charges and McGonigal faces up to five years in prison, nobody expects his sentence, which will be handed down towards the end of this year, to be that severe since he reached a plea deal with the Department of Justice, admitting his guilt.

(…)The Russian side of the McGonigal scandal is the tame one. Although the media never paid it sufficient attention, the accused is facing more federal charges stemming from McGonigal’s taking $225,000 from a former Albanian intelligence officer in 2017, when the accused was still an FBI official. This is fundamentally a Balkan spy-meets-corruption scandal, and that wasn’t addressed by McGonigal’s guilty plea this week.

The Balkan angle here is unpleasant and raises disturbing questions. As the New York Times put it gently this week, the accused “befriended the prime minister of Albania, Edi Rama, and used his position to drum up foreign business for his associates, according to the indictment filed against him in Washington. On one occasion, McGonigal opened an FBI investigation into a lobbyist for the Albanian prime minister’s main political rival.”

The truth, as The Examiner reported on multiple occasions , is considerably more troubling than that. In exchange for cash, McGonigal became the “heavy” for Rama and his Socialist government, threatening their political rivals and shaking down Albanian oligarchs for cash in exchange for protection from U.S. sanctions. This was a secret, mafia-like extortion ring run by a top FBI official, which netted tens of millions of dollars, according to multiple sources. Such underworld tactics are hardly unexpected since, during the decadelong rule of Rama and his Socialists, little Albania has become Europe’s epicenter for the global illegal narcotics trade, with the tacit support of the Biden State Department.

Although what’s termed “the McGonigal affair” in Albania is widely discussed there, this shocking story has made little impression in Western media. That may have something to do with the fact that Rama and his allies are able to quash European media stories which report on their corruption and connections to international organized crime.

Officially, the Balkan portion of the McGonigal scandal remains an open case with the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, D.C., and no plea bargain has yet been reached. However, McGonigal’s attorney stated during a recent court hearing that he expects the Albania-related charges to also be resolved without going to trial, according to ABC News. (Read more: The Washington Examiner, 8/17/2023)  (Archive)