Ex-DEA Officer Who Impersonated CIA Sentenced to 7 Years in Prison

Published: 02 November 2020

Courtney managed to defraud millions out of more than a dozen companies, including NIH and NITAAC. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)Courtney managed to defraud millions out of more than a dozen companies, including NIH and NITAAC. (Photo: NIH, Wikimedia, License)

By David Klein

Garrison Kenneth Courtney, the former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer who pleaded guilty earlier this summer to impersonating a CIA officer and defrauding several companies for some US$4.4 million, was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). 

 “Courtney – along with his five aliases – will now spend the next seven years in federal prison for his deceitful and felonious criminal conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Terwilliger.

Courtney, a resident of Tampa, Fla., told several companies that he was a covert officer of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and that they needed to hire him so that he could establish what he called a “commercial cover.”

 Courtney told the companies that the CIA would reimburse them for his salary. His victims included government agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Information Technology Acquisition and Assessment Center (NITAAC).

He managed to defraud millions out of more than a dozen companies, the DOJ said.

 “Courtney went to extraordinary lengths to perpetuate the illusion that he was a deep-cover operative. He falsely claimed that his identity and large portions of his conduct were classified; [and] directed victims and witnesses to sign fake nondisclosure agreements that purported to be from the U.S. government and that forbade anyone involved from speaking openly about the supposedly classified program;” 

 Courtney told other employees that they were under surveillance by hostile foreign intelligence services and made a show of searching people for electronic devices as part of his supposed counterintelligence methods. 

 He also demanded that his victims meet in sensitive compartmented information facilities to make it appear that they were participating in a classified intelligence operation.

He threatened those who questioned his legitimacy with revocation of their security clearance and criminal prosecution, the DOJ said.

 Courtney’s scheme included a complex and self-aggrandizing personal backstory which claimed “he had served in the U.S. Army during the Gulf War, had hundreds of confirmed kills while in combat, sustained lung injuries from smoke caused by fires set to Iraq’s oil fields, and that a hostile foreign intelligence service had attempted to assassinate him by poisoning him with ricin,” the DOJ said.

“All of these claims were false.”