Soviet Spies Plead Guilty to Plotting With FBI Agent : 18-Yr. Term for Her and 8 for Mate
Accused Soviet spies Svetlana and Nikolai Ogorodnikov pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage today in Los Angeles federal court after a plea-bargain agreement worked out in the last two days with government prosecutors.
Under the agreement, approved by U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon, Ogorodnikova will be sentenced to 18 years in prison and her husband to eight.
The guilty pleas came two months after the start of the Ogorodnikovs’ espionage trial. The two Soviet emigres would have faced possible life prison terms if they had been found guilty of conspiring on the espionage charge.
The Ogorodnikovs were arrested last Oct. 2 with former FBI agent Richard W. Miller and accused of conspiring with Miller to pass secret FBI documents to the Soviet Union.
Sex and $65,000
Miller, 48, who faces his own trial later this summer, is accused of passing documents to Ogorodnikova in exchange for sex and a promised $65,000 in gold and cash.
The former FBI agent had been the government’s main witness against the West Hollywood couple during the last two weeks, testifying that Ogorodnikova recruited him to be a Soviet spy last Aug. 5 and that he met with her three days later to discuss a proposal to be paid $50,000 in gold to meet with Soviet intelligence agents.
As the couple stood before Kenyon to enter their guilty pleas, Miller’s attorneys, Stanley Greenberg and Joel Levine, watched from a corner of the courtroom. They had no immediate comment on the probable impact of the guilty pleas on Miller’s own case, but sources close to the trial said it is obviously a damaging blow to Miller’s own hopes of acquittal.
In accepting the guilty pleas, Kenyon said: ‘It does appear to the court that both sides have given considerable thought to the matter. They feel it is in the best interests of the public and of justice.”
‘Justice Will Be Done’
The plea-bargain arrangement was announced shortly after noon by Assistant U.S. Atty. Richard B. Kendall.
“The parties have agreed on a disposition of the case. It will be by guilty pleas by both defendants, and it is the government’s view that justice will be done,” Kendall said.
Kendall, who has prosecuted the case with Assistant U.S. Atty. Bruce G. Merritt, said that in exchange for the guilty pleas to one count of conspiracy, the government will drop a number of bribery charges remaining against the Ogorodnikovs, which carried possible 15-year prison terms.
Ogorodnikova, 35, had been charged with three counts of bribery, and her husband, 52, faced two bribery counts.
Ogorodnikova had claimed that she thought she was helping the FBI after becoming involved with Miller in May, 1984, and her husband had maintained that he had no knowledge of any espionage conspiracy.