Former FBI counterintelligence chief Charles McGonigal, age 54, pleads not guilty

Bruno Cooke January 24, 2023
Former FBI counterintelligence chief Charles McGonigal, age 54, pleads not guilty
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images


Charles McGonigal first started working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1996, at the age of 27 or 28, and his professional bio has been mostly successful ever since.

Now, according to NBC News, he has been arrested for alleged money laundering, violating US sanctions against Russia, and taking money from a former foreign agent.

He has pleaded not guilty in alleged schemes to help a sanctioned Russian oligarch, CNN adds. His attorney’s name is Seth DuCharme.

With news stories on top of news stories piling up on top of him, here’s what we know about Charles McGonigal’s professional bio, his age, and his wife.

Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Who is Charles McGonigal? Age and bio of former FBI chief

Charles McGonigal first joined the FBI in 1996, at the age of 27 or 28, or thereabouts. He is currently 54, according to the Justice Department’s press release reporting his arrest.

Before joining the Bureau, he earned a bachelor of business administration degree from a university in Ohio, and in 2012, he completed a master’s degree at John Hopkins University. 

Upon joining the FBI in 1996, he worked on Russian foreign counterintelligence and organized crime matters. That’s according to a 2016 press release from the Bureau itself.

While working in New York, he investigated the TWA Flight 800; joined the task force investigating Wen Ho Lee; and investigated the 1998 bombings of the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. He also investigated the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US. 

Charles McGonigal become the FBI’s cyber-counterintelligence chief before he turned 50

When the FBI put out its press release announcing his promotion to special agent in charge of the counterintelligence division for the New York Field Office, McGonigal would have been either 47 or 48.

That was in 2016. James B Comey, who was the director of the FBI from 2013 to 2017, appointed him. But McGonigal retired just two years after his appointment. 

Among his postings throughout his career with the FBI were stints in Cleveland, Washington DC, Baltimore and at FBI headquarters. 

According to his bio on the Potomac Officers Club website, McGonigal lives – or at least, recently lived – in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with his wife Pamela, and their two children.

His lawyer stressed that his day in Manhattan federal court had been “stressful” for both him and his family. See below.

He has pled not guilty via his attorney

The US Department of Justice, District of Columbia put out a press release on Monday, January 23, 2023, stating that Charles McGonigal had received charges relating to concealing $225,000 in cash “received from an outside source.”

McGonigal, now 54 years old, entered a plea of not guilty at a federal courthouse in Manhattan, per the BBC. He is, however, one of the highest-ranking FBI agents ever to have received such a set of charges.

Federal prosecutors claim that he violated US sanctions by agreeing to provide services to Oleg Deripaska, 55. The US has sanctioned Deripaska based on the accusation that he has propagated “malign activity around the globe.”

McGonigal faces six charges worth a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison. He also faces six other counts, each punishable by five years.

Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

There’s no direct connection between Charles McGonigal and Donald Trump

The Guardian writes that Deripaska, with whom prosecutors believe McGonigal has a connection, has ties to Vladimir Putin.

He was reportedly at the center of allegations that Russia sought to help Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. That’s why you might see the names Charles McGonigal and Trump floating around together. 

Deripaska was also a client of Paul Manafort, per the paper, the former Trump campaign chair, convicted in 2018.

In other words, there isn’t a direct connection between Trump and McGonigal. But allegations connect them via Oleg Deripaska.

Have something to tell us about this article?
Let us know
Bruno Cooke has been a freelance journalist since 2019, primarily with GRV Media. He was an early contributor to The Focus, and has written for HITC, Groundviews and the Sheffield University newspaper – he earned his MA in Global Journalism there in 2021. He’s the Spoken Word Poetry Editor for The Friday Poem, and self-published his debut novel Reveries in 2019, which his mum called both a “fine read” and “excellent Christmas present”. Bruno has lived in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines and likes, among other things: bicycle touring, black and white Japanese films, pub quizzes, fermentation and baklava. In 2023, Bruno will set off with his partner on a round-the-world cycle.