April 28, 1994 – Aldrich Ames Pleads Guilty to Revealing U.S. Espionage Secrets to Russia

On this day in history, CIA case officer Aldrich Ames pleaded guilty to espionage charges pursuant to his arrest that February. He had been a 31-year veteran of the CIA who spoke Russian and specialized in the Russian intelligence services. His second wife Rosario was also arrested.

Ames' mug shot, taken on the day of his arrest

Ames’ mug shot, taken on the day of his arrest

In 1985, Ames secretly volunteered at the USSR Embassy, Washington, D.C. to spy for the KGB in exchange for a lot of money. Ames divorced his first wife, and had a large financial settlement with her. He also picked up an expensive girlfriend, Rosario, soon to be his second wife. (After Rosario’s arrest the FBI discovered in the Ames’s house, which was paid for in cash, sixty purses, more than five hundred pairs of shoes, and 165 unopened boxes of pantyhose, inter alia. Ame’s own taste ran to tailored suits and a Jaguar.)

Shortly after Ame’s approach to the KGB, they paid Ames $50,000. During the subsequent years, Ames continued to meet with Russian officers, passing them classified information. In the first four years, the KGB paid $1.88 million to Ames.

Meanwhile, the CIA and FBI learned that important Russian officials who had been recruited by them were being arrested and executed. Following an analysis of who had been killed and what information had been compromised, as well as the receipt of information about Ames’s unexplained wealth, the FBI opened an investigation on him in May 1993.

FBI special agents and investigative specialists conducted intensive surveillance of Ames during a 10-month investigation. When Ames planned foreign travel, including a trip to Moscow, as part of his official duties, a plan to arrest him was approved.

Following his arrest and guilty plea, Ames detailed compromising the identities of CIA and FBI human sources, some of whom were executed by USSR authorities. According to the terms of his plea agreement, he forfeited his assets to the United States, and $547,000 was turned over to the Justice Department’s Victims Assistance Fund. Ames is serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole in the high-security Allenwood U.S. Penitentiary. Rosario Ames completed her sentence of 63 months in prison and was released.


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