'The Assets': Capturing a CIA Traitor

CIA legend Sandy Grimes recalls hunting down a CIA officer turned Soviet spy during the Cold War.
3:00 | 12/30/13

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Transcript for 'The Assets': Capturing a CIA Traitor
Text1 plain We're going to take you inside a real life scandal. You're going to meet a mom who helped bring down perhaps the worst trader in cia history. How did she do it? What you are watching is inspired by real life events. One of the worst acts of treason in american history. A cia officer walks into the russian embassy, hands over secrets and demands a mooting with the kgb. I work for the cia. This betrayal is at the heart of the new abc miniseries, the asset. I think you will want to meet with me after you read this. And it's based on the case of a cia mole whose treachery shocked the nation. Tonight, aldrich ames. What you did, you did for money. Stop me if I say anything that's wrong. The asset takes us inside the hunt to take down ames, which is led in part by sandy grimes, a wife, mother, and cia agent seen here on the show. And seen here today, how much damage. He wiped out your ability to have eyes and ears on the ground in our number one enemy? Exacy. Sandy grimes first met ALDRICH AMES IN THE EARLY 1970s When they were both young agents and in the same carpool. At the time, sandy had an extremely sensitive job, helping to manage the cia's relationship with the agency's crown jewel, a spy named general top hat, the highest ranking sovie officer ever recruited. She spent so long on his case that she felt he was her best friend. Why did he volunteer to help us? The dangerous espionage work was blended with a tender home life. We were very close. His granddaughter remembers him as a doting figure. He was always making furniture for my dolls. But her relationship with her grandfather was cut brutally short when on june 13, 1985, rich ames gave a list of every known human asset the cia had in the soviet union. The list had 20 names on it. Within a year, ten of those people were executed. Among those rounded up, this general seen in the remarkable footage as he is arrested and stripped on the spot just in case he had a cyanide pill on him to take his own life. He was later tried in a secret court and shot. Back at the cia, no one knew exactly what had gone wrong as they had been betrayed by aldrich ames. Sandy grimes blamed herself. In many respects it's more difficult to regain the business. You didn't view it as just business. It didn't take long for grimes to start to suspect rich ames. He had an affair with a column beeian woman. She would become his second wife and she had expensive taste. He began wearing high end suits, getting fancy haircuts and driving a jaguar. The cia didn't begin to focus on ames until many years later. Grimes's job was to construct a data base of all of ames's activity. He made a series of cash deposits in the bank each time just hours after meeting with a russian official. Those meetings were sanctioned by the cia so they didn't look suspicious until they were matched up with those bank statements. That would eventually lead to rick's arrest and conviction. 18 months later as a result of the work done by grimes and the rest of the task force, aldrich ames and his wife were arrested. To grimes it is a bittersweet victory. She is angry about the people that he betrayed. He knew full well what fate awaited them and he did it basically for money. He needed money to take care of his mistress. He was a weak person. He could not face telling her no. I think it was that simple. Ames was sentenced to life in prison. What I did to those men, the situations their families and others -- this is kind of shame and remorse that I feel. It's something that is and probably will be for me. Rosario ames got five years in prison. They found boxes of panty hose that had never been opened and designer dresses that had never been worn still hanging in the closet. She insisted she only knew about her husband's treason for the last 18 months and she even denounced her husband. You don't betray your mother, you don't betray your country. You don't betray your wife. You don't betray people. Grimes co-authored a book called circle of treason. She got a surprise. I came up to her. I was very nervous. I didn't know what to say. So I opened the book to the page where my picture was. I said I'm in this book. She points to the picture and she said I'm that little girl. I said you're the general's granddaughter? She said yes. So we hugged one another. We both were in tears. Isn't she beautiful? We were there as grimes and the granddaughter of the man she once considered her beth friend saw the new series for the first time. What do you hope viewers take away from the show? That they remember those people who volunteer to the u.S. Government knowing that working for us, passing our secrets might result in their losing their lives. In addition to that I want them to remember that treason is a crime against every citizen of our country.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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