Sunday, April 18, 2021

Former DEA spokesman sentenced to 7 years for posing as CIA agent to scam $4 million


A former spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was sentenced to 7 years in prison Wednesday for posing as a CIA agent on a deep-cover mission in order to bilk at least a dozen businesses out of more than $4 million.

Garrison Kenneth Courtney, 44, of Tampa, Florida, used five aliases, fabricated official-looking government documents, and concocted a phony past as a decorated US Army vet to convince businesses to hire him as part of his CIA cover, promising they would be reimbursed, according to prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in Virginia.

But in fact, the closest he came to being a G-man was as a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security and later the DEA.

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“Courtney’s brazen and salacious fraud was centered on the lie that he was involved in a highly-classified intelligence program and that he was a covered CIA officer engaged in significant national security work,” G. Zachary Terwilliger, US attorney in the Eastern of Virginia, said in a release.

“In fact, Courtney never worked for the CIA, the supposed classified program did not exist, and Courtney invented the elaborate lie to cheat his victims out of over $4.4 million,” Terwilliger said.

Courtney went to great lengths to pull off the scam, convincing businesses to sign non-disclosure agreements and even duping actual government workers into believing his bogus claims — so they could vouch for him when his victims called for verification, prosecutors said.

At one point he landed a job as a private contractor for the National Institutes of Health Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center, which provides services to federal agencies.

Once there, he tried to divert government contracts to some of his victims to convince them he was legit, prosecutors said.

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When the FBI started to close in, Courtney used his government contacts to try to throw them off the scent by convincing them to lie to federal investigators and to frame innocent people, authorities said.

However, he was arrested earlier this year and faced up to 20 years in prison until pleading guilty to wire fraud in June and agreeing to the lesser sentence, court records show.


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