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Army 1981 - 1989

1988 - CLYDE LEE CONRAD, retired Army Sergeant First Class, was arrested on 23 August 1988 in West Germany and charged with copying and transmitting classified documents to the Hungarian intelligence service for nearly a decade. He was recruited in 1974 by a Hungarian-born immigrant, ZOLTAN SZABO, a veteran of Vietnam who served as an Army Captain in Germany. Szabo began working for Hungarian intelligence in 1967. (He was convicted of espionage by an Austrian court in 1989, but served no jail time because of his cooperation with authorities in the prosecution of Conrad.) Two Hungarian-born doctors arrested at the same time in Sweden are said to have acted as couriers in the espionage operation and Conrad is believed to have hired at least a dozen people in the US Army to supply classified information—one of the biggest spy rings since World War II. Conrad's recruits continued to work for him after returning to the US, illegally exporting hundreds of thousands of advanced computer chips to the East Bloc through a phony company in Canada. In June 1990, former Army sergeant RODERICK JAMES RAMSAY, 28, was arrested in Tampa, Florida, following a two-year investigation. Ramsay worked in West Germany from 1983 to 1985 directly under Conrad. He provided Conrad with sensitive documents on the use of tactical nuclear weapons by US forces and NATO allies and plans for the defense of Europe, and manuals on military communications technology. Conrad was granted a Top Secret security clearance in 1978 when assigned to the US 8th Infantry Division headquarters in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Despite his administrative specialist's job which gave him access to extensive classified materials, Conrad had not been subject to a periodic reinvestigation before his retirement in 1985. Documents provided to Hungarian agents concerned NATO's plans for fighting a war against the Warsaw Pact: detailed descriptions of nuclear weapons and plans for movement of troops, tanks and aircraft. Conrad, in charge of a vault where all the 8th Infantry Division's secret documents were kept, took suitcases stuffed with classified papers out of the base. The former sergeant is reported to have received more than $1 million for selling secrets. The two Hungarian couriers, SANDOR and IMRE KERCSIK were sentenced by a Swedish court on 18 October to 18 months in prison. In 1989 Conrad was charged with treason under West German law. It took more than a year to charge him formally due to the complexity of the case, which initially was declared one of espionage and then broadened to include the more serious charge of treason. Tried in a West German court, Conrad was sentenced to life imprisonment on 6 June 1990. In January 1998, Conrad died in a German prison, of heart failure.

Washington Post 27 Aug 1988, “US Ex-Sergeant Accused in Spy Case Not Given Mandatory Security Check"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2 Sep 1989, “Former US Sergeant Accused of Treason”
Richmond Times-Dispatch 7 Jun 1990, “Former GI Given Life for Spying”
Los Angeles Times 9 Jun 1990, “Alleged Spy Called Brilliant, Erratic”


1988 - THOMAS JOSEPH DOLCE, civilian research analyst at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, admitted in Federal court on 11 October 1988 that he had supplied scores of Secret documents related to Soviet military equipment to the Republic of South Africa between 1979 and 1983. Dolce, who had been under investigation by the FBI since April, resigned from his position on 30 September “for personal reasons.” Dolce had held a Secret clearance at the Army Material Systems Analysis Activity at Aberdeen where he had been employed since 1973. In pleading guilty to a single count of espionage, he acknowledged passing documents on 40 or more occasions by mail or in person to military attachés at the South African Embassy in Washington and at South African Missions in London and Los Angeles. According to Dolce, he was motivated by ideological rather than financial reasons and had a long-term interest in the Republic of South Africa. He had in fact moved to South Africa in 1971, but later returned to the US because of better employment opportunities. Prior to 1971 Dolce had been a US Army clandestine warfare specialist. His contacts with South African representatives began when he sent them an unclassified paper on clandestine warfare that he had written. There is no evidence that Dolce received money in exchange for documents. On 20 April 1989, the former analyst was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined $5,000.

Washington Post 12 Oct 1988, “Md. Man Admits to Espionage for South Africa”
Washington Post 13 Oct 1988, “Spy for S. Africa Called Reserved”


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”


1982 - OTTO ATTILA GILBERT, Hungarian-born US citizen, was arrested 17 April 1982 after paying $4,000 for classified documents provided by an Army officer who was working as a US Army double agent under Army control. The officer, CWO Janos Szmolka, had been approached in 1977 by agents of Hungarian military intelligence while on a visit to his mother in Hungary and had reported the contact to Army intelligence. While stationed in Europe, Szmolka agreed to work as a double agent. In 1981 he received $3,000 for 16 rolls of film of unclassified documents and was offered $100,000 for classified material on weapon and cryptographic systems. Szmolka was reassigned to Fort Gordon, Georgia, in 1980, but maintained his contacts with Hungarian intelligence, which led to the meeting with Gilbert. Gilbert was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 15 years in prison. This case is considered to be a classic example of recruitment based on a hostage situation since implied threats were made against the Hungarian relations of the US service member.

Washington Post 20 Apr 1982, “Spying is Charged to New Yorker of Hungarian Origin”
New York Times 20 Apr 1982, “Native of Hungary is Jailed in South on Spying Charges”


1988 - JAMES HALL III, Army Warrant Officer, was arrested on 21 December 1988 in Savannah, Georgia, after bragging to an undercover FBI agent that over a period of six years he had sold Top Secret intelligence data to East Germany and the Soviet Union. At the time, Hall believed that he was speaking to a Soviet contact. During this conversation he claimed that he had been motivated only by money. He told the FBI agent posing as a Soviet intelligence officer, “I wasn't terribly short of money. I just decided I didn't ever want to worry where my next dollar was coming from. I'm not anti-American. I wave the flag as much as anybody else.” Also arrested, in Bellaire, Florida, was HUSEYIN YILDIRIM (nicknamed “the Meister”), a Turkish national who served as a conduit between Hall and East German agents. He was working as a civilian mechanic at an Army auto shop in Germany at the time. According to FBI sources, Hall started passing documents to East German agents in 1982 while serving in West Berlin as a communications analyst monitoring East Bloc cable traffic. Later, Hall was transferred to Frankfurt where he continued to pass “massive amounts” of highly classified data on communications intelligence. Hall is believed to have received over $100,000 from agents of two countries during this period of time. In July 1987 he was reassigned to Ft. Stewart, near Savannah, Georgia. Hall had been under investigation by FBI and Army counterintelligence agents for several months before his arrest and had been observed meeting Yildirim three times in November and December. Hall's detection as an espionage source may have resulted from reports that Hall was living in a style far above what his pay scale would allow. According to US officials, the operation appears to have inflicted serious damage on US electronic intelligence collection activities in Europe. On 9 March 1989 Hall was sentenced to 40 years in prison, fined $50,000 and given a dishonorable discharge. Yildirim was convicted 20 July 1989 of scheming with Hall and sentenced to life. Prosecutors contended that from 1982 to 1988 Yildirim carried classified military intelligence from Hall to East Bloc agents and returned with money.

New York Times 22 Dec 1988, “Army Technician and a Civilian are Held as Spies for Soviet Bloc
Washington Post 23 Dec 1988, “Spy Suspect Said to Act Prosperous”
New York Times 19 Jul 1989, “Jury Hears Tale of Spy Who Did It Out of Greed”
Newsweek 2 Jan 1989, “Top Secrets for Sale?”


1981 - JOSEPH GEORGE HELMICH, a former US Army Warrant Officer, was arrested on 15 July 1981 at his residence in Jacksonville, Florida, for the sale of US cryptography to the Soviet Union from 1963 to 1966. Helmich served as a crypto custodian in France and at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina. He initiated contact with USSR embassy officials in Paris after being faced with severe financial problems. In return for extremely sensitive information related to the KL-7 cryptographic system widely used by the US military, Helmich received approximately $131,000. After being transferred to Ft. Bragg, Helmich continued to provide the Soviets with KL-7 key lists and traveled to both France and Mexico City to rendezvous with his handlers. Helmich came under suspicion in 1964 and was questioned because of his unexplained affluence. He was interviewed again in August 1980 and, although admitting he had received $20,000 from Soviet agents, denied he had compromised classified information. In early 1981 he was spotted with Soviet agents in Canada. Eventually Helmich recounted full details of his espionage involvement. On 16 October 1981, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Washington Post 16 Jul 1981, “Ex-Army Cryptographer Indicted on Spy Charges”
New York Times 16 Jul 1981, “Ex-Army Warrant Officer Accused of Being Soviet Spy”
New York Times 24 Sep 1981, “Generals Testify in Espionage Case”


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”


1989 - TOMMASO MORTATI, former US Army paratrooper, was arrested in Vincenza some time in 1989 by Italian authorities on charges of having passed Top Secret documents to Hungarian military intelligence services. According to European news reports, the former Army sergeant, who was born in Italy, confessed to disclosing secrets about American and NATO bases in Italy and claimed he belonged to a still-active espionage network. He is presumed to have been a member of the same network that included the Conrad spy ring in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. Conrad was arrested in August 1988 and has since been sentenced by a German court to life imprisonment. Mortati was born in Italy but later emigrated to the US where he obtained US citizenship. He left the army in 1987 but remained in Italy as his American wife continued to work for the US Army base in Vincenza. Mortati's arrest followed that of Hungarian-born naturalized American ZOLTON SZABO who recruited Mortati in 1981, sent him for two weeks of training in Budapest, and continued to be his contact. Mortati is said to have confessed to Italian authorities that he attempted to bribe several Italian officers in 1984 and 1985, offering money for information. Press reports state that Italy's military secret service was informed about Mortati's activities by German and Austrian counterintelligence authorities. A search of Mortati's home revealed a hidden two-way radio used to transmit his reports in code. Up until the time of his arrest, he had received $500 a month from the Hungarian Intelligence Service plus a payment for every report filed, based on its importance. Mortati was convicted in an Italian court and after a period of incarceration was released.

This summary is based on European media items and an ABC Television News report.


1989 - MICHAEL A. PERI, 22, an electronic warfare signals specialist for the Army, fled to East Germany with a laptop computer and military secrets 20 February 1989and voluntarily returned 4 March 1989 to plead guilty to espionage. He was sentenced to 30 years in a military prison. Even after his court-martial, authorities were at a loss to explain what happened. Peri said he made an impulsive mistake, that he felt overworked and unappreciated in his job for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, West Germany. His work involved operating equipment that detects enemy radar and other signals. Peri had been described as “a good, clean-cut soldier” with a “perfect record.” During his tour of duty in Germany he had been promoted and twice was nominated for a soldier of the month award.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 25 Jun 1989, “US Soldier Given 30 Years”
Los Angeles Times 29 Jun 1989, “From Soldier to Spy; A Baffling About-Face”


1988 - DANIEL WALTER RICHARDSON, a US Army sergeant stationed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, was arrested on 7 January 1988 and charged with attempting to spy for the Soviet Union. Richardson reportedly intended to offer unspecified national defense information to Soviet representatives in exchange for money. No information is believed to have been compromised. Officials stated that Richardson was apprehended after electronic surveillance picked up his efforts to contact Soviet representatives. This led to his negotiation with an undercover government agent posing as a Soviet. He was arrested at the Holiday Inn in Aberdeen (with an unclassified military manual and circuitry from the M-1 tank in his possession) as he attempted to meet with the undercover agent. An Army spokesman stated that Richardson had a Secret clearance but “no ready access to classified materials.” Although trained as an instructor, his job was to issue tools to students at the Ordinance Center School at Aberdeen. “Money and revenge against the military” have been identified by an administration official as Richardson's chief motivations for espionage. Described as a mediocre soldier, Richardson was demoted in August 1987 for repeated tardiness. He was charged at the time of arrest with espionage, failure to report contacts with a foreign government, theft, and unauthorized disposition of government property. On 26 August 1988 Richardson was sentenced by a military jury to 10 years in prison, fined $36,000, and discharged with a bad conduct record.

New York Times 15 Jan 1988, “Army Sergeant is Arrested on Espionage Charges”
Washington Post 16 Jan 1988, “Soldier Had No Access to Army Secrets”


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”


1987 - SVETLANA TUMANOVA, a naturalized US citizen born in Estonia, worked as a secretary at the US Army Foreign Language Training Center in Munich. She married a Soviet émigré and her parents continued to live in the Soviet Union. In 1978 she was recruited by the Soviet foreign intelligence service to provide information through coercion based on threats against her parents. Arrested in 1987 by West German police, she was convicted of providing biographical information on personnel at the Language Center for nine years. She was sentenced to five years’ probation.


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