FBI agents descended on the home of a New Jersey deputy mayor after a CIA informant accused him of being a Russian agent.
Agent Lauri-Ellen Tricia Whiteley, of the Newark field office, said she suspected 48-year-old Inver Grove Heights resident Andrew Sossen of “being involved in Russian espionage.”
Whiteley said that Sossen sent a text message to someone the day after Christmas saying, “It has begun,” meaning the arrest of Russians on suspicion of spying.
“It is my understanding that at least one person may have been detained,” Whiteley said in a court document.
“I also believe there is a Russian mole in the White House.”
Sossen’s wife, Molly, told investigators she found the text message while doing a phone search on a new phone.
“Molly stated that she had never seen her husband so concerned about a message in his text history,” according to the affidavit.
Whiteley said Sossen’s behavior seemed suspicious and may indicate he’s been using his phone.
“Based on the text messages and the unknown telephone number that was being texted from,” Whiteley said she had reasonable grounds to believe that Sossen has “been actively involved in or working with Russian or other foreign intelligence services for the past 10 years, including during the period in which he has worked at the Inver Grove Heights Police Department.”
Sossen has worked for the department for 18 years, according to his city of residence form.
Sossen denies any wrongdoing and told NBC’s Jay Glatfelter he and his wife are on the wrong side of the law.
Sossen called Glatfelter from his home and said the situation is “unusual” and he doesn’t understand why they are in this predicament.
He said he would cooperate with investigators and would tell them anything he knows.
“We just need to find out what’s going on here,” Sossen said. “I have nothing to hide.”
Asked if he has ever had a romantic relationship with a Russian, Sossen replied, “No.”
Glatfelter asked if the FBI has sought the cooperation of any of his friends, but Sossen said no.
As for the allegations of being a Russian agent, Sossen told Glatfelter, “That was just a false accusation that someone made.
“I have never had any ties with the Russians. I have nothing to do with Russia.”
Whiteley said Sossen has admitted that he once shared a beer with a Russian whom he met at a bar.
“He has also admitted to a former mentor of his that he had a college-age Russian boy stay in his hotel,” Whiteley said.
The court document alleges that Sossen also admitted to the informant that he played poker with an older Russian man. The man told Sossen that Russian President Vladimir Putin wanted him to “spy on the U.S.”
Whiteley said Sossen denied that he had sex with the man, but was unable to provide proof he was not involved in a sexual relationship.
Glatfelter asked Sossen if he ever used the club’s public restroom.
“No,” he said.
Whiteley said Sossen has provided inconsistent statements. She believes he is the subject of an elaborate scheme to recruit him.
If convicted of espionage, he could face up to 10 years in prison.