The first defense witness at Richard W. Miller’s spy trial admitted Wednesday that he paid the ex-FBI agent $1,000 for official information and Miller sometimes paid him as an FBI informant.
The statements from Lawrence Grayson in Los Angeles federal court were elicited by prosecutors to challenge the credibility of his earlier testimony in Miller’s behalf.
U.S. District Judge David Kenyon earlier had ruled that jurors could be told about a previous, allegedly criminal relationship between Miller and the witness, a Riverside private investigator. Kenyon said that jurors might have a different opinion of Grayson’s story if they knew that he had allegedly bribed Miller two years before Miller was arrested on espionage charges.
“In 1982, did Richard Miller provide you with information available to him as an FBI agent?” U.S. Atty. Robert Bonner asked.
“Yes,” replied Grayson, who said he was working for a private investigation agency at the time.
“And did you pay him for that information?” the prosecutor asked.
“Yes,” Grayson said, acknowledging that he paid Miller about $1,000 between January and March, 1982, for copies of police files, state motor vehicle records and FBI criminal histories.
Grayson also acknowledged that he had been an FBI informant when Miller was stationed in Riverside from 1979 to 1981.
Defense attorney Stanley Greenberg brought out that Grayson, in fact, had been a paid informant of various police agencies for 21 years and was once a special deputy with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
“And in addition to Mr. Miller providing you with information, you provided him with information, didn’t you?” Greenberg asked.
“Yes,” answered Grayson, acknowledging that Miller also paid him.
Could Face Life
Miller, 48, the first FBI agent ever tried for espionage, is charged with passing classified FBI documents to Svetlana Ogorodnikova, his Russian lover, for the Soviet Union. He could face life imprisonment if convicted.
Ogorodnikova and her husband, Nikolai Ogorodnikov, earlier pleaded guilty to espionage and are serving prison sentences.
Miller’s lawyers, calling Grayson as their first witness, lost an attempt to limit his testimony to an account of a meeting he had with Miller two months before the agent’s arrest.
Grayson testified Tuesday that Miller proposed that the investigator follow him to Mexico to take pictures of Miller meeting with Soviets. The defense suggests that Miller wanted to prove to his FBI superiors that he was trying to catch Soviet spies, not become one.
Bonner late Tuesday sought to introduce evidence of Miller’s previous ties to Grayson to cast doubt on the motivation for the testimony, and the judge ruled in his favor Wednesday.
“The court thinks that relationship is extremely relevant to rebut the arguments of the defense,” Kenyon said. “I don’t know which one the jury would buy or not buy, but it seems to me very relevant.”
Bonner also suggested, during his questioning, that after Grayson was first interrogated by the FBI about the case, he tried to warn Miller.
Grayson denied that.
At another point, Bonner said Grayson and Miller referred to the picture-taking scheme by the code name “Mother” and that Grayson used that term when he phoned Miller’s home after his first interrogation by the FBI.
“And didn’t you leave a message with his wife to tell her husband that two people came by and put flowers on mother’s grave?” asked Bonner.
“Yes, sir,” Grayson said, but he denied that that was intended as a warning.