Former FBI Agent Richard W. Miller was portrayed Friday as "silly and lightheaded" from margaritas and cognac as he drove with his Russian girlfriend to San Francisco in 1984 to deliver secret FBI documents to KGB officials at the Soviet Consulate.
The image of Miller and convicted Soviet agent Svetlana Ogorodnikova drinking their way to San Francisco on an ill-fated spy mission was provided by FBI Agent Larry E. Torrence in the most damaging prosecution testimony yet in Miller's espionage retrial.
Torrence testified that Miller himself described the trip to San Francisco to Torrence and FBI Agent Graham Van Note during an FBI interrogation on the day before he was arrested, Oct. 2, 1984, as the first FBI agent ever charged as a spy.
After first denying that he had ever given Ogorodnikova any secret documents, according to Torrence, Miller steadily altered his story during four days of FBI questioning until finally saying that he had twice given Ogorodnikova a copy of the FBI's Positive Intelligence Reporting Guide.
Torrence said that at one point in his FBI interrogation on Oct. 1, 1984, Miller drew a map of his Lynwood house and marked the spot in his bedroom where he and Ogorodnikova stood while he showed her the Reporting Guide, a general list of U.S. intelligence goals around the world.
"He said the document was in his briefcase and that he took the document from the briefcase and handed it to Mrs. Ogorodnikova," Torrence said. "He said she took the document in her hands, looked at it and asked if she could have it. He said she possibly kept it and she possibly gave it back."
Torrence added that Miller also confessed to taking the Reporting Guide and another secret FBI document on the trip to San Francisco with Ogorodnikova on Aug. 24, 1984. Miller allegedly told Torrence that he gave Ogorodnikova the documents as well as his FBI badge to show to Soviet officials in an effort to "pacify" her and to make it appear that he was prepared to work as a Soviet agent.
'Silly and Lightheaded'
"He said on the trip to San Francisco, Svetlana had plied him with liquor--margaritas and cognac," Torrence said. "He felt silly and lightheaded, but insisted he wasn't drunk. He said that on the following day, as they went to the Soviet Consulate, they had more to drink."
The testimony by Torrence was essentially the same as his testimony in the first Miller trial, which ended in a jury deadlock last Nov. 6. Torrence will resume his testimony Tuesday when the retrial resumes, with half a dozen other prosecution witnesses scheduled to tell of similar confessions by Miller.
The defense maintains that Miller made his confessions because he was exhausted from his lengthy FBI questioning. At one point Miller allegedly said he was willing to sign a confession admitting anything the FBI wanted him to say, but was told by Torrence the FBI only wanted him to admit the "truth."