Halligen must also pay $2.1 million in restitution to the firm he pleaded guilty to defrauding.
From 2005 to 2008, Halligen lived a lavish lifestyle in Washington, where he offered high-priced services as a security consultant by falsely claiming a background in intelligence. His life of luxury and boasts of involvement in international intrigue crumbled when many of the prominent Washington personalities who trusted him started charging him with misusing their money.
Halligen fled to the United Kingdom but eventually was apprehended and extradited. He pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in May to one count of wire fraud.
Halligen, 51, has been in prison since November 2009 in England and the United States — awaiting extradition and then again waiting for his guilty plea and sentencing. Kollar-Kotelly sentenced him to the maximum time recommended under federal sentencing guidelines.
The case stems from Halligen’s contract with Trafigura, a company based in the Netherlands that paid him nearly $12 million in less than a year to help free two of its executives who had been arrested in Ivory Coast.
“The victim in this case was incredibly vulnerable, a fact that the defendant capitalized on,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia Miller said at the sentencing hearing. “This company was in a highly vulnerable state and would have spent anything.”
Rather than use the money to influence American power players to help Trafigura’s cause as promised, Miller said, Halligen took a $2.1 million payment and bought a $1.6 million house in Great Falls in cash the next day.
The rest of the money went to buy two purebred dogs and help pay for an opulent wedding that was perhaps the most stunning chapter of Halligen’s tale.
After wooing an American attorney, Halligen invited about 100 guests to their wedding at the Evermay estate in Georgetown, where the happy couple treated their guests to lamb, lobster and a fireworks show.
But the minister was actually an actor. And Halligen, a dual citizen of Ireland and the United Kingdom, already had a wife in England. He told his would-be bride a few days before the ceremony that he could not sign public documents because of his role as a spy; all of the guests were left in the dark.
Halligen said at his sentencing that he takes “full responsibility” for his actions but offered no words of remorse. He said that though he misused the $2.1 million payment, the rest of the money did fund more than 30 contractors whom he said he hired to work on Trafigura’s case.
“I want to make it clear I was not sitting on a little fortune of my own $12 million,” he said. He then told the judge: “I’m in your hands.”
Halligen was represented by a public defender, and Kollar-Kotelly found that Halligen has almost no financial assets to pay the mandatory restitution that he owes. He sold the Great Falls house in 2008.
In addition to the Trafigura case in criminal court, several former associates have sued Halligen for similar alleged frauds in civil courts in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Miller, the prosecutor, pointed out that Halligen had no financial need to motivate his theft. “The motivation behind this fraud is greed at an astonishing magnitude,” she said.