Ex-CIA Officer Clines First Iran-Contra Figure Going to Prison

From Associated Press

Arms middleman and retired CIA officer Thomas Clines today will become the first participant in the Iran-Contra scandal to go to prison.

Clines is scheduled to serve a 16-month term at a minimum-security federal correctional facility in Schuylkill County, Pa., his lawyer, Tom Spencer, said Sunday. Federal prison officials may make a last-minute change on where Clines serves his sentence, Spencer added.

A federal appeals court refused to let Clines remain free pending appeal of his convictions for failing to disclose to the U.S. government some of the profits he made from arms deals for the Nicaraguan Contras.

Clines is seeking Supreme Court review of his case.

In 1985 and 1986, Clines assisted the secret Contra aid network run by White House aide Oliver L. North, who was assigned by Ronald Reagan Administration higher-ups to help the rebel force when Congress cut off military aid.

Clines used his contacts in the Communist East Bloc and Western Europe to arrange the purchase and delivery of rifles, machine guns, grenades and explosives to the Contras fighting Nicaragua’s then-leftist government.


A federal court jury in Baltimore found Clines guilty on Sept. 18, 1990, of four felonies, including failing to report to the Internal Revenue Service more than $260,000 in profits from the arms shipments.

He also was convicted of failing to tell the IRS about overseas financial accounts.

A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., upheld Clines’ convictions in February.

Spencer said he expected his client to serve about half of the 16-month term.

Clines is an executive for Panex Corp. of McLean, Va., an international security consulting firm.

Seven people have pleaded guilty to various crimes in the Iran-Contra scandal, but none of them received any prison time. North was convicted of three felonies, but an appeals court set the convictions aside and the case was ultimately dismissed. Former National Security Adviser John M. Poindexter was convicted of five felonies, but all were reversed on appeal.