Five years after his arrest on charges of spying for the Soviet Union, former FBI agent Richard W. Miller emerged from federal custody Monday, free on bond pending his third espionage trial.
Empty-handed and wearing a borrowed gray suit, Miller was released at 3:15 p.m. after posting $337,000 bond, according to his lawyers and federal authorities. It was his first taste of freedom since he was taken into custody in 1984.
Federal marshals removed a pair of manacles, then took Miller to the basement of the U.S. District Courthouse in downtown Los Angeles. The marshals then drove the heavyset former FBI man several blocks from the courthouse where a waiting car took him to a reunion with family and friends, said defense attorney Stanley Greenberg.
Greenberg described Miller as upset with several last-minute delays, but relieved to be free. “He had a little smile,” the lawyer said.
Earlier in the day, Miller gave a thumbs-up sign moments before U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon ordered him to appear in court April 3 for the start of his third trial on charges of passing secrets to a Soviet woman who worked for the KGB.
Miller declined requests for immediate comment. But in a statement released by his attorneys, he reaffirmed his innocence.
“I did not betray my country,” Miller said. “For now, I am very grateful to the courts and my lawyers for allowing my release pending trial.”
Explaining that he needed “a little time with my family and lawyers,” Miller said that in his retrial, he expects “the truth will come out, and I will be vindicated.”
During the morning hearing, Greenberg and defense attorney Joel Levine said they will file a motion asking that Kenyon be replaced as trial judge.
“We just think the history of the case suggests that justice would be served by a new and fair judge,” Greenberg said.
Assistant U.S. Atty. Russell Hayman, Miller’s prosecutor, said the government would oppose changing judges.
After a first trial in 1985 resulted in a mistrial, Kenyon oversaw a four-month trial that ended in Miller’s conviction in June, 1986, for passing intelligence information to his lover, Soviet emigre Svetlana Ogorodnikova, in return for sex, $15,000 in cash, $50,000 in gold and a British-made trench coat.
It was the first espionage conviction ever of an FBI agent. But last April, as Miller served the first stretch of two life terms plus 50 years in prison, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court ruled that Kenyon permitted too much testimony about Miller’s failure on lie detector tests.