How a phony spy came ‘dangerously close’ to stealing $4 billion from US military — and getting away with it
A former Drug Enforcement Administration official was about to swindle nearly $4 billion from the military after ripping off $4.4 million from government officials and other victims, according to new court documents.
A sentencing memo filed in federal court by the Department of Justice shows that fake spy Garrison Courtney was "dangerously close" to taking his scam to another level before his cover was blown, reported The Daily Beast.
Courtney pleaded guilty this summer to one count of wire fraud as part of a complicated scheme posing as a deep-cover CIA operative after leaving his high-level spokesman position for the DEA.
According to investigators, Courtney convinced defense contractors to put him on the payroll so he could pose as a civilian while he supposedly worked on a top-secret national security mission.
The sentencing memo shows Courtney "seeking to corrupt over $3.7 billion in federal procurements" from defense contractors before investigators disrupted his fraudulent scheme.
"The government had requirements, he knew the requirements, and he was gonna deliver the requirements," one of Courtney's conspirators told The Daily Beast. "He only needed a little bit more time, and he actually would have delivered. If left alone, he'd probably be a billionaire right now."
That person, an ex-military intelligence officer, escaped criminal charges by cooperating with investigators, and he told The Daily Beast that he worked with Courtney at cybersecurity contractor Blue Canopy before taking part in the scheme that ultimately cost his job, life's savings and marriage.
"The FBI agreed not to put my name out there, so I thought I could walk away from this and try to create some semblance of a life," that individual said. "All I ever wanted to be was an intelligence officer, and I was really good."
Courtney's scam was so convincing that it almost became real.
A number of public officials actually tried to stop the FBI investigation on national security grounds, and investigators said Courtney came extremely close to effectively immunizing himself from prosecution by getting his phony mission legitimized under national security law.
"It is chilling to consider what the defendant could have accomplished," the sentencing memo said.
Prosecutors are seeking 37 months in prison for Courtney.