Ex-FBI Agent Pitts Sentenced to 27 Years:
Another Example of Unequal Justice

June 23, 1997 - CNN

Editors Note:
EX FBI agent Earl Edwin Pitts committed treason, spying for an enemy for money. His crimes are far more severe than the one count of passing classified information to an ally, for which Jonathan Pollard was indicted. Nevertheless, Pitts' 27 year sentence is a far lighter sentence than the life sentence meted out to Jonathan Pollard.

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- A judge sentenced former FBI agent Earl Pitts to 27 years in jail Monday for spying for Moscow.

Prosecutors had requested nearly 24 1/2 years. But U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis told Pitts his crimes were especially severe and said Pitts has yet to fully apologize.

"You betrayed your country, you betrayed your government, your fellow workers and all of us, really," Ellis said, glaring at the defendant. "Every time you go by Arlington (National Cemetery) ... every name you see on the Vietnam Memorial ... you betrayed them especially."

Pitts, 44, acknowledged spying for the Russians before and after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Randy Bellows called Pitts' conduct "appalling," saying Pitts betrayed his fellow law enforcement officers, going so far as to give Russians information about FBI agents' children.

Pitts also gave the Russians the FBI's "Soviet Administrative List," a comprehensive listing of every Russian official in the United States and their connection with the intelligence community. In addition, he gave the Russians "a bird's-eye view of the progress the United States has made" in figuring out the Soviet intelligence apparatus, Bellows said.

Pitts, the second FBI agent ever caught spying, pleaded guilty in February to conspiring and attempting to commit espionage. The plea spared Pitts a possible life prison sentence on the 12 charges he originally faced.

Pitts, looking thin and disheveled, told the judge he understands how deeply he betrayed his country and his profession.

"I do not wish to excuse or explain away my actions. What I did was wrong, pure and simple," he said.

Pitts, said to be motivated by money, was caught as a result of a 16-month undercover FBI sting operation and was dismissed by the agency in January.

He had been in the FBI's New York City unit responsible for catching Russian spies. He was charged with accepting more than $224,000 from Moscow for U.S. secrets.

  • Unequal Justice