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Boss Says Richard Miller Was Candidate For Mental Breakdown in 1982

August 15, 1985

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The FBI was warned in 1982 that Richard W. Miller was likely to suffer a mental breakdown if subjected to continuing pressure about his weight, an FBI official testified Thursday at the ex-agent’s espionage trial.

Gary Auer, Miller’s former boss in the bureau’s foreign counterintelligence squad, said he decided to minimize Miller’s sensitive assignments after reading the psychiatrist’s report in Miller’s FBI file.

″That statement by the psychiatrist in 1982 was a factor in my consideration relevant to taking away some of his cases in 1983,″ Auer said.

Miller, 48, the first FBI agent ever charged with espionage, is accused of passing classified FBI documents to his lover, a Soviet spy, in exchange for $65,000 in gold and cash.

Defense attorney Stanley Greenberg, cross-examining Auer, read portions of the psychiatric evaluation which mentioned a ″possible mental breakdown by Mr. Miller due to pressures being placed upon him.″

The statement came two years before Miller, a 20-year veteran of the FBI, became sexually involved with Svetlana Ogorodnikov.

The government claims he committed espionage as a result of mounting frustrations with his job, but the defense claims Miller was trying to redeem an FBI career which had once shown promise but was in shambles by the time he met Mrs. Ogorodnikov in the spring of 1984.

During her own trial earlier this summer, Mrs. Ogorodnikov confessed she was a spy and pleaded guilty along with her husband, Nikolay. They have been sentenced to prison.

Miller contends he was trying to ″dangle″ himself before the Soviet emigres as a potential double agent in order to infiltrate the Soviet spy network for the FBI.

″Was it your belief that Mr. Miller could not be made into a fully successful FBI agent?″ Greenberg asked Auer.

″I believed Richard Miller had the ability to be a successful FBI agent,″ Auer said.

However, on further questioning, he acknowledged that Miller could not handle complicated or sensitive matters, that he couldn’t get his weight down and he had been reported sleeping on the job when he was supposed to be out jogging in an effort to shed some pounds.

Auer said Miller was so desperate about his ballooning weight in the spring of 1984 that he started using large amounts of diuretics to cheat on his weigh-ins.

Miller’s ploy was discovered when the FBI ordered a surprise weight check, Auer testified.

″I located Mr. Miller and told him we had to have a weigh-in at that time and he should accompany me to the weight scales.″ Auer said the 5-foot-10- inch Miller tipped the scales at 247 pounds that day.

Just six days earlier, Miller weighed in at 226 pounds, Auer said.

He said he confronted the agent. ″He told me he had been using diuretics as a means of eliminating water weight prior to weigh-ins.″

Shortly afterwards, he said Miller was suspended for two weeks without pay because of the weight problem and was threatened with termination of his career.