In October 1984, Miller, a Federal Bureau of Investigation special agent with 20 years’ experience in the elite Foreign Counterintelligence squad in California, was arrested and charged with selling classified information to the KGB. His defense was that—while he admitted having been romantically involved with a beautiful, 34-year-old Soviet émigré, Svetlanta Ogorodnikova, who had been resident in the U.S. since 1973—he had suspected that she and her husband, Nikolai, were KGB agents and was acting as a double agent to entrap them. The FBI had long suspected, like the rest of the local émigré community, that Ogorodnikova and her husband
enjoyed links to the KGB, and a surveillance operation code-named WHIPWORM was intended to prove she was a KGB contact agent, or talent spotter, assigned the task of cultivating potential sources. In September 1984, just as the trio were about to be arrested, Miller explained to his superiors that he was engaged on a complex double agent game with the KGB, with the intention of tricking the San Francisco rezident but, after lengthy interrogations, he was disbelieved, and all three were arrested on 3 October 1984.
The prosecution alleged that Miller had offered to sell classified information to the pair for $50,000 in gold and $15,000 in cash, and a large quantity of secret FBI documents was recovered from his home. At the time of his arrest, Miller had been planning to fly to Vienna to meet Ogorodnikova and complete the transaction. When charged, the two Russians pleaded guilty; Nikolai Ogorodnikov was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment, his wife to 18. After two trials, at which Ogorodnikova gave evidence against Miller, he was sentenced in February 1986 to 20 years in prison, a term reduced on appeal to 13, which enabled him to be paroled in May 1994.