George Trofimoff was the highest ranking U.S. military officer ever convicted of spying.
It began in an odd way. A KGB archive clerk defected to Britain in 1992. His notes indicated that there had been a high ranking U.S. military intelligence officer in Germany who leaked classified documents to the KGB in the decade of the 70s. This officer had been recruited and handled by a priest. There were no names nor any other information.
Colonel George Trofimoff was at that time in the process of retiring. He was a U.S. naturalized citizen, having been born in Germany of Russian descent. He had served in the U.S. military for over 40 years. His brother was a Russian Orthodox priest, the Cardinal of Vienna.
Even though this generic description by the KGB defector could have fit dozens of U.S. military officers, the FBI thought the best possibility was Trofimoff. They thought this because of his close relationship with “the priest”, but they did not realize “the priest” was his brother. The FBI used its international influence to have its German counterpart arrest and investigate Colonel Trofimoff.
On December 15, 1994, the German Federal Supreme Court of Justice found that in reference to Colonel Trofimoff and his priest brother “… no current strong suspicion against both accused that they conducted secret service like spy activities…”
The FBI had egg on its face and targeted Colonel George Trofimoff for a trap when he retired to Florida. It took two years and a promised payment of $45,000 for the FBI to set the trap.
I write of Col. Trofimoff and the U.S. government trial against him in my book: “Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking military officer convicted of spying”
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