LOS ANGELES — The arrest of a veteran FBI agent on charges of spying for Russia recalls the arrest more than 16 years ago of Richard W. Miller, who became the first FBI agent to be convicted of espionage.
Miller, who worked in the Los Angeles office, was ultimately convicted of trading secrets for sex with a Russian emigre and the promise of $65,000 in cash and gold.
But the case against Robert Philip Hanssen, 56, who was arrested Sunday in Virginia, appears far different than the one against Miller, according to Miller’s attorney, Joel Levine.
Hanssen appeared to have had more access to sensitive information than Miller did, Levine said Tuesday.
“Miller’s access was very innocuous and in the long run it had a bearing on the case,” he said.
Miller was arrested in October 1984 along with accomplices Svetlana Ogorodnikov and her husband, Nikolai Ogorodnikov.
“He had an affair with (Svetlana Ogorodnikov), that’s a matter of record,” said Levine. “She was suspected of having links to the Soviet intelligence community.”
Miller, 64, now lives in Utah, Levine said. He could not be reached for comment.
The Ogorodnikovs each pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after reaching agreements with federal prosecutors.
Miller was tried three times. The first ended in a mistrial.
At his second trial, in 1986, Miller was described by one of his attorneys as “an overweight Inspector Clouseau” who “bumbled and fumbled his way through the FBI for 20 years” and let “fantasies of James Bond” get the best of him.
The prosecution described Miller as a man obsessed with money and women, making him “a classic target for KGB recruitment.”
Miller was found guilty of espionage and bribery, but the conviction was overturned in 1989 because polygraph findings were admitted as evidence.