Looking through my cell window of the federal prison at Butner, North Carolina, I saw a tall, slightly stooped, older man walking the track of the “rec yard”. I could tell by his body language and his gate he was depressed, though he would never admit it. Stooped for the moment, he was normally erect, proud and with direct eye contact.
This man was Colonel George Trofimoff, recently convicted of spying for the KGB. He was the highest ranking military officer ever convicted of spying. He was serving life. He was my cell-mate.
The Colonel had served forty seven years in either the United States Army or the United States Army Reserve, all of it in the intelligence field. In the early years, he was loaned by the army to the CIA to work in the jungles of Laos with the Montagnard tribes. This was in the ’50s when our government was vehemently denying that we had “personnel” in Southeast Asia.
Later, he served in the Korean War and from there to Germany as Chief of a Joint Interest Command in the Cold War. Upon retiring to the gated Indian River Colony Community at Melbourne, Florida, in 1995, he made some calculated mistakes when he started having financial troubles. These mistakes resulted in a long, drawn-out jury trial in Tampa where he was convicted of spying back in the ’70s. The problem with that conviction was that he was not guilty, at least not guilty of what the government charged him with. Now, he would spend the rest of his life in prison.
I wrote about the colonel in my book: “Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America’s highest ranking officer convicted of spying”