The wife of CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames was sentenced to 5\ years in prison after she admitted helping the most damaging spy in U.S. history. She had begged for mercy for herself and her 5-year-old son.
"I beg you to be merciful," 41-year-old Rosario Ames told the judge in a quavering voice. "Please understand that you are not only sentencing me, but Paul, too."
U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton gave her the minimum prison time called for in the deal she made with prosecutors when she pleaded guilty last April to conspiring to commit espionage and evade taxes.
With credit for eight months she has served since her arrest Feb. 21 and time off for good behavior, she could be released in three years and eight months, prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed.
Her husband, a 52-year-old former head of counterintelligence in the CIA's Soviet branch, is serving life without parole. In nine years of spying for the Soviet Union and Russia, he admits, he was paid more than $2.5-million, compromised dozens of CIA operations and exposed numerous foreigners who were spying for the CIA. The government says at least 10 were executed.
Mrs. Ames riveted a standing-room audience as she read a 3\-page statement.
She admitted she "provided advice and support" for her husband's spying after he told her about it in 1992. But she sought leniency so she could take care of their son, Paul, who now lives with relatives in her native Bogota, Colombia.
"I beg you, your honor, Paul needs me, Paul is innocent. He did nothing wrong," she said.
In the 25-minute hearing Friday, she was portrayed by her lawyer as another of her husband's victims. She said, "Rick made me believe that my life was constantly in danger. . . . He would tell me that the (Soviet) KGB had asked for pictures of me and Paul."
Prosecutor Mark Hulkower described her as a greedy spendthrift who regularly prodded Ames to do Moscow's bidding in order to keep the Russian money coming.
Her plea bargain called for a sentence from 5\ to 6 years, but Hilton wasn't bound by it. He could have sentenced from any amount from zero to 15 years.
Hulkower, who spoke before Mrs. Ames, attacked her vigorously.
"As each day goes by, Mrs. Ames takes less and less responsibility for her conduct and goes further in her attempts to convince this court and the world at large that she never did anything wrong, except maybe not turn in her husband," he said.