The 30-year spy game of a State Department analyst and his wife who served as agents of Cuba's intelligence service ended Friday with a life sentence for Kendall Myers and 6 ½ years behind bars for Gwendolyn Myers. The elderly pair were so unrepentant about their crimes that the judge cited their lack of remorse in hitting Kendall with a term that ensures he'll die in prison.
Myers and his wife, now in their early 70s, led a double life, graying grandparents who were also committed supporters of the Cuban revolution who passed sensitive US intelligence information to the Castro regime for three decades. The Northwest D.C. residents used a Sony shortwave radio and shopping cart switches at a Giant supermarket on Wisconsin Avenue to pass information to their Cuban handlers.
Last November Kendall Myers, known as "Agent 202" to his handlers, pled guilty to conspiracy to commit espionage; his wife, "Agent 123," pled guilty to conspiracy to transmit national defense information.
During sentencing Friday, Kendall Myers told US District Court Judge Reggie Walton that both he and his wife were inspired by their love of the Cuban people and the revolution. "We acted as we did because of our ideals and beliefs. We did not act out of anger … or out of any anti-Americanism," Myers said.
"Our overriding objective was to help the Cuban people defend their revolution," Myers told Walton. "We share the ideals of the Cuban revolution."
Judge Walton said he was perplexed at how providing classified information to the Cuban intelligence service helped the Cuban people.
"The Cuban people feel threatened by the United States -- it has invaded and carried out acts hostile to Cuba," Myers said. "Part of our motivation was to alleviate those fears -- to help protect Cuba, to warn Cuba."
Cuban agents recruited Kendall Myers a year after he started working at the State Department as a full time employee in 1978, but he did not begin spying until 1981. Investigators said his Cuban handlers wanted Myers to move to the CIA, but Myers remained at State.
Myers rose in the ranks at the State Department, eventually becoming a senior intelligence analyst for the Department of State's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, which gave him vast access to classified information. He worked at the State Department until his retirement in October 2007.
While the couple sought no money for their espionage, they were lauded by the Cuban government for their work, receiving medals from the Cuban intelligence service and personally meeting Fidel Castro during a New Year's celebration in 1995 on a visit to the island.
The FBI had been keeping tabs on the couple for several years, but ramped up their case in April 2009, when an undercover FBI counterintelligence agent posing as a Cuban representative approached Kendall Myers about doing more work for Cuban intelligence. The undercover operation lured the couple to try and return to their previous spying activity. Prosecutors overseeing the case today said that Gwendolyn was more difficult to convince but that her husband's true reason for spying was that it provided him with excitement.
Assistant US Attorney Michael Harvey told the Judge that in April 2009 Myers told his wife, "I was actually thinking it would be fun to get back into it."
After the couple was arrested in June 2009, they quickly worked towards securing a plea deal with the government to seek leniency for Gwendolyn, who has had extensive health problems. Harvey told Judge Walton Friday that Kendal Myers should be given the maximum sentence for his spying. "He is a traitor," said Harvey. "He betrayed his colleagues at the State Department ... he betrayed his country ... and today shows no remorse."
Before issuing the life sentence for the couple Judge Walton echoed Harvey's statement, saying, "I see no sense of remorse. You were proud of what you did."
Judge Walton, whose grandfather was born into slavery, told the couple he felt America provides a great opportunity to its citizens, "The United States has a lot to be proud of, which is something that you can't seem to acknowledge."
Walton then sentenced Kendall Myers to life in prison without parole. Myers showed little expression when the sentence was announced, and little expression during the almost 90 minute hearing. Gwendolyn showed strain in her face. Noting that Gwendolyn was receiving the benefit of the government's plea deal with the couple, Walton sentenced her to 81 months in federal prison.
The couple has asked that they serve their prison sentences close to each other so that their family of six children and seven grandchildren can visit them.
Asked about the case, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Friday, "We believe that in this case of Kendall Myers, the severe punishment was warranted by the nature of his crime. This was a serious breach of national security and, by committing acts of espionage, he grievously violated the confidence placed in him by the Department of State and the American people."