McGonigal sentenced to 28 months in prison for concealing contacts with Albanian officials

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 20, 2024 11:55

McGonigal sentenced to 28 months in prison for concealing contacts with Albanian officials

Story Highlights

  • Former FBI official Charles McGonigal sentenced for breach of public trust related to $225K received from an Albanian-American man and failure to disclose contacts with Albanian officials, including Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Related Articles

TIRANA, Feb. 17, 2024 - The federal court in Washington has sentenced former FBI official Charles McGonigal to 28 months in prison for "serious breach of public trust" regarding the $225,000 he received from Albanian-American Agron Neza and failure to disclose contacts with officials in Albania, including Prime Minister Edi Rama.

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly stated in the courtroom before handing down the sentence that McGonigal's acceptance of money from someone who introduced him to foreign officials in Albania "is a very serious violation" and that it appears at the end of his career, McGonigal had lost his "moral compass."

The judge said there could be no motivation other than "recklessness and arrogance" for McGonigal to believe he could carry out such actions without consequences, according to reporting from the court by VoA’s Albanian service.

Prosecutors from the Department of Justice had sought a 30-month prison sentence for McGonigal for "serious breach of public trust," as stated in the memorandum regarding the charges in the Albania case.

During the session, prosecutor Elizabeth Ann Aloi said McGonigal's violations were blatant and constituted corruption.

"We're dealing with a high-ranking FBI official who sold his position," she said. "He didn’t take money from a close friend … but from someone who was connecting him with foreign officials."

The prosecutor went on to say that he "went so far as to open an investigation at the FBI against a lobbyist," from information he received from his contacts in Albania.

The indictment does not identify the American lobbyist or the Albanian party. 

But investigative journalists at several media outlets in the U.S. and Albania have put together the pieces of the puzzle, indicating McGonigal was essentially used by the Albanian government for Socialist Prime Minister Rama to attack the country’s largest opposition Democratic Party, hurting its reputation in the United States and at home in the process. The investigation McGonigal opened was later closed by the FBI after it found no wrongdoing in DP’s lobbying practices.

Although McGonigal's lawyers requested that the sentencing in Washington be concurrent with that in New York, where he was sentenced to 50 months in prison on charges related to violating U.S. sanctions against Russia, the judge decided that the sentencing in Washington would be separate.

If the sentences were to be considered concurrent, it would mean that the Washington court's sentence would be part of the 50 months imposed for the New York trial, but both prosecutors and the judge agreed that McGonigal should serve a separate sentence for the charges related to Albania.

According to prosecutors in the case, McGonigal not only failed to declare the receipt of the money but also advanced the business interests of Neza and lied to the FBI about their joint activities, thereby concealing the fact that he had conflicts of interest and private financial interests. He also concealed meetings with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, his adviser Dorian Duçka, and others.

"This essentially constitutes corruption that undermines transparency and trust in the integrity of the Executive Branch of government. The defendant swore to investigate and prevent crimes against the United States and not to commit them," prosecutors said in the document seeking McGonigal's sentencing.

In September, McGonigal pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington to all charges related to Albania, including the pre-reported contacts with Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his unofficial adviser, Duçka, in exchange for dropping 8 other counts he was indicted on.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 20, 2024 11:55