OverviewPERSERECEspionage Cases1984

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1984

1984 - THOMAS PATRICK CAVANAGH, an engineering specialist for Northrop Corporation’s Advanced Systems Division holding a Secret clearance, was arrested on 18 December 1984 and charged with attempting to sell classified documents on Stealth aircraft technology to the Soviets. It is reported that Cavanagh's attempt to arrange a meeting with a Soviet official by contacting the Soviet Embassy from a pay phone was intercepted. In this call he proposed a meeting in a bar near Los Angeles International Airport where a deal could be negotiated. He was met by FBI undercover agents posing as Soviet representatives. Cavanagh told the agents that the documents and blueprints he had taken from the firm were of highest value to the United States and that “once they were in the hands of the Soviets, they would save them billions.” During a subsequent meeting, agents provided the $25,000 demanded for classified documents and made the arrest. Cavanagh, recently separated from his wife, faced mounting financial difficulties and feared that he was being denied a Top Secret clearance because of indebtedness. Agents found more than 30 past due notices from creditors at his residence showing a total indebtedness of over $25,000. Despite Cavanagh’s efforts, it is reported that no serious compromise occurred. According to the prosecuting attorney, had Cavanagh been successful, he would have “gutted” the Stealth Bomber project. Cavanagh pleaded guilty to two counts of espionage and on 23 May 1985 was sentenced to two concurrent life terms in prison.

New York Times 19 Dec 1984, “Engineer is Held in Scheme to Sell Secrets”
Washington Post 22 Dec 1984, “Engineer in Secrets Case is Held Without Bail”
DoD Security Institute, Security Awareness Bulletin, Dec 1985, Number 1-86, “Portrait of an Uneasy Spy”
San Francisco Examiner 21 Jun 1987, “Traitor in our Midst”


1984 - ROBERT ERNEST CORDREY, a Marine private, was convicted 13 August 1984 by court-martial of 18 counts of attempting to contact representatives of communist countries for the purpose of selling classified information about nuclear, biological and chemical warfare. Cordrey had been an instructor at the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defense School at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The charges were not contested and the case was not disclosed to the public until January 1985 due to the extremely sensitive nature of the investigation. Apparently Cordrey attempted to contact Soviet, Czech, East German, and Polish agents. While his espionage efforts were thwarted, he attempted to sell classified information for the purpose of making money. He was sentenced to 12 years at hard labor by the military court; however, his pretrial agreement with prosecutors limited his jail term to two years.

New York Times 10 Jan 1985, “Marine Gets 12 Years At Spy Court-Martial"


1984 - ERNST FORBRICH, a West German automobile mechanic, was arrested 19 March 1984 in Clearwater Beach, Florida, after paying $550 for a classified military document supplied by an undercover agent posing as an Army intelligence officer. Forbrich was described as a conduit who passed US military secrets to East German intelligence and by his own admission had been selling documents to East German intelligence for a period of 17 years. Forbrich traveled frequently to the US, contacting former US military personnel who had served in West Germany. Convicted in June on two counts of espionage, Forbrich was sentenced to 15 years.

Washington Post 21 Mar 1984, “West German Accused of Spying for East”
New York Times 21 Mar 1984, “German is Arrested on Spying Charge”


1984 - BRUCE LELAND KEARN, a Navy operations specialist assigned as command secret control officer on board the USS Tuscaloosa, was arrested in March 1984 and convicted at a general court-martial for dereliction of duty, and willfully delivering, transmitting or communicating classified documents to unauthorized persons. No nation was named as having received any of the classified materials. While absent without leave, Kearn left behind a briefcase which was found to contain 147 classified microfiche (copies of nearly 15,000 pages of Secret documents), seven Confidential crypto publications, and child pornographic photographs and literature. He was sentenced to 18 months based on a plea bargain.

Proceedings, Naval Review, 1986, p. 14


1984 - KARL FRANTISEK KOECHER, a former CIA employee, and his wife, were arrested 27 November 1984 as they were preparing to fly to Switzerland. At the time, he was believed to be the first foreign agent to have penetrated the CIA, having operated successfully as an “illegal” for Czech intelligence for 19 years. In 1962 Koecher was trained as a foreign agent by Czech intelligence. He and his wife staged a phony defection to the US in 1965 and soon became known as an outspoken anti-Communist member of the academic community in New York City. Both became naturalized citizens in 1971 and Koecher obtained a translator job with the CIA two years later where he translated Top Secret materials until 1975. Koecher, who claimed that he was a double agent, was arrested after being observed making frequent contact with KGB operatives. According to Federal prosecutors, Mrs. Koecher operated as a paid courier for Czech intelligence until 1983. An FBI agent testified that from February 1973 to August 1983, Karl Koecher passed on to Czech agents highly classified materials including names of CIA personnel. However, the case never came to trial. On 11 February 1985, Koecher was exchanged in Berlin for Soviet dissident Anatoly Shcharansky. The Koechers’ motivation was primarily loyalty to their country, but also included the prospect of money and perhaps even the thrill of being double agents.

New York Times 28 Nov 1984, “Man Charged with Passing State Secrets”
New York Times 5 Dec 1984, “Wife is Held in Contempt of Court for Refusing to Testify"
New York Times 13 Jan 1985, “Intrigue and Countercharges Mark Case of Purported Spies”
Washington Post 17 Apr 1988, “Moscow Mole in the CIA”


1984 - ALICE MICHELSON, an East German national, was apprehended 1 October 1984 as she was boarding a flight in New York to Czechoslovakia with tape recordings hidden in a cigarette pack. Michelson, apparently acting as courier for Soviet intelligence, had been given the classified material by a US Army sergeant who was posing as a KGB collaborator. Michelson was indicted and held without bail; however, before coming to trial she was exchanged (June 1985), along with three other Soviet Bloc agents, for 25 persons who had “been helpful” to the US. The FBI has described the case as "a classic spy operation."

Washington Post 3 Oct 1984, “East German Woman Charged with Spying”
Washington Post 3 Oct 1984, “FBI Agent, German, Analyst in Intelligence Cases”
New York Times 11 Oct 1984, “East German Indicted in Spy Plot”


1984 - RICHARD W. MILLER, first member of the FBI to be indicted for espionage, was arrested with two accomplices, SVETLANA and NIKOLAI OGORODNIKOV, on 3 October 1984. According to news reports, Miller provided classified documents to the Ogorodnikovs, two pro-Soviet Russian émigrés, and demanded $50,000 in gold and $15,000 cash in return. Miller, who was faced with financial difficulties, is alleged to have been sexually involved with Svetlana Ogorodnikov and was preparing to travel with her to Vienna at the time of his arrest. A search of Miller's residence uncovered several classified documents. At the time of their trial the Ogorodnikovs were accused of having been “utility agents” for the KGB since 1980. After a 10-week trial, and in an agreement with Federal prosecutors, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. Nikolai Ogorodnikov was immediately sentenced to eight years imprisonment. His wife later received a sentence of 18 years. Miller pleaded innocent and after 11 weeks of testimony, a mistrial was declared. Following a second trial which ended on 19 June 1986, Miller was found guilty of espionage and bribery. His claim that he was trying to infiltrate the KGB as a double agent was rejected by the jury. On 14 July 1986, Miller was sentenced to two consecutive life terms and 50 years on other charges. This conviction following his second trial was overturned in 1989 on the grounds that US District Judge David Kenyon erred in admitting polygraph evidence. Miller was granted bail in October 1989 while awaiting a new trial on charges that he passed Top Secret FBI data to the Soviet woman who was his lover. Miller was forbidden to leave the Los Angeles area without special permission and underwent therapy as ordered by the Probation Department. On October 9, 1990, he was convicted on all counts of espionage for the second time and, on 4 February 1991, was sentenced to 20 years in Federal prison. On 28 January 1993, a Federal Appeals Court upheld his conviction. On 6 May 1994, Miller was released from prison following the reduction of his sentence to 13 years by a Federal judge.

Washington Post 4 Oct 1984, “FBI Agent Charged in Espionage”
Washington Post 5 Oct 1984, “Accused Spies Portrayed as Incompetents”
Time Magazine 15 Oct 1984, “Spy vs. Spy Saga”
Los Angeles Times 5 Feb 1991, “Miller Gets 20-Year Term for Spying”


1984 - SAMUEL LORING MORISON, a civilian analyst with the Office of Naval Intelligence, was arrested 1 October 1984 for supplying Jane's Publications with classified photography showing a Soviet nuclear powered carrier under construction. The photographs were subsequently published in Jane's Defence Weekly (July 1984). Morison, described as a heavy spender and unhappy with his Navy Department job, had been employed by Jane's as a part-time contributor. A search of his apartment turned up two portions of Navy documents marked Secret. On 17 October 1985, after a seven-day trial, Morison became the first individual convicted under the 1917 Espionage Code for unauthorized disclosure to the press. Also convicted of theft of government property, Morison was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment on 4 December 1985. The decision was appealed and in April 1988 the conviction was upheld by the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals. In October 1988 the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, thus endorsing the use of the espionage code for prosecuting cases of unauthorized disclosure.

Washington Post 3 Oct 1984, “Navy Analyst Arrested in Photo Sale”
New York Times 8 Oct 1984, “Disclosing Secrets to the Press...”
Washington Post 29 Oct 1984, “Unlikely Espionage Suspect”
Washington Post 18 Oct 1985, “Morison Guilty of Spying, Stealing Documents”


1984 - CHARLES DALE SLATTEN, a US Army PFC in the 8th Signal Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division, was stationed at Bad Kreuznach, West Germany, in 1984. On April 14 he was arrested by the USACIDC for stealing a cryptological device with intent to sell it to the USSR. Slatten worked as a telephone installer at the Rose Barracks where he had access to the device. Although he collaborated with two friends in a scheme to sell the equipment to the Russians for an offer of $1.8 million, Slatten was the only one convicted of espionage by a military court-martial on August 22, 1984. He was sentenced to nine years in prison and given a dishonorable discharge. His motive for committing espionage at the age of 19, two years into his Army career, was money. After serving eight years of his sentence for espionage in a military prison in Kansas, Slatten was released and eventually moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where he and his wife, a cocaine addict and sometime prostitute, compiled a further criminal record. In July 1994, Slatten pleaded no contest to 11 counts of petty and grand theft for a series of thefts of pay phones from laundries, post offices, and convenience stores. He would break open the phones to get the change for his wife’s cocaine habit. On probation six months later, the apartment manager at the complex where Slatten was living evicted him, and Slatten became enraged. Rather than retaliate against the manager, however, he decided to go after the manager’s parents. On 25 February 1995, Slatten made a pipe bomb in his living room and convinced a friend to detonate it against the front door of the manager’s parents’ home. The explosion damaged the house but failed to injure the sleeping inhabitants. Slatten pleaded guilty to seven counts that included making, possessing, and conspiring to use a “weapon of mass destruction.” At the age of 31, in August 1996 he was sentenced to another 24 years in prison.

U.P.I. 19 Apr 1984, “U.S. Air Force Sergeant Charged with Spying”
Tampa [Florida] Tribune 14 Apr 1995, “Police: Angry Tenant Sought Revenge with Bomb”
St. Petersburg Times 5 Jul 1995, “Teenager Gets Year in Jail in DUI-Manslaughter Case”
St. Petersburg Times 16 Aug 1996, “Revenge Bomber Gets a 24-year Sentence”


1984 - RICHARD CRAIG SMITH, former Army counterintelligence agent, was arrested on 4 April 1984 and indicted for selling information to Soviet agents regarding the identities of six double-agents in the US. Having failed in business after leaving government service and faced with severe financial difficulties, Smith reportedly met on three occasions with KGB officers in Tokyo and received $11,000 for classified information. Smith himself initiated contact with the FBI in the summer of 1983, claiming he had “conned” the Soviets out of $11,000. Later, Smith claimed that he had been working under the direction of CIA operatives in Honolulu. After months of pre-trial litigation over the admissibility of evidence, Smith was acquitted by a Federal jury on 11 April 1986.

Washington Post 9 Apr 1984, “Unlikely Character for a Spy Story”
Washington Post 11 Apr 1984, “Spy-Case Suspect.....”
Washington Post 13 Apr 1986, “Smith Celebrates His Freedom”


1984 - JAY CLYDE WOLFF, 24-year-old auto painter and former Navy enlisted man, was arrested on 17 December 1984 in Gallup, New Mexico, for offering to sell classified documents dealing with US weapons systems aboard a US Navy vessel. Wolff, who was discharged from the Navy in 1983, met with an undercover agent and offered to sell classified material for $5,000 to $6,000. According to the FBI, a tip led to the meeting with Wolff at a convenience store where he was apprehended. Wolff pleaded guilty to one count of attempting to sell classified documents and on 28 June 1985 the former service member was sentenced to five years in prison.


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