Mark J. Hulkower, 53

Mark J. Hulkower, prosecutor in Aldrich Ames spy case, dies at 53

Mark Hulkower, center, with fellow defense attorneys representing Blackwater security guards at U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
Mark Hulkower, center, with fellow defense attorneys representing Blackwater security guards at U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City. (2008 Photo By Chris Detrick)

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By T. Rees Shapiro
Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mark J. Hulkower, 53, a Washington defense lawyer who in his earlier career served as the Justice Department prosecutor in the espionage case against CIA turncoat Aldrich Ames, died Feb. 5 at Capital Hospice in Arlington County. He had colon cancer.

At the time of his death, Mr. Hulkower was a partner at Steptoe and Johnson, where he led the firm's white-collar criminal defense group. His clients included executives from Enron, AOL, Tyco and the Teamsters Union, as well as a Blackwater security guard who was accused of killing unarmed civilians in Iraq.

Mr. Hulkower came to prominence as an assistant U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia from 1989 to 1995. He helped secure convictions in three high-profile spy cases. They included Frank Nesbitt, a onetime Marine who passed intelligence secrets to Russia; Frederick C. Hamilton, a Defense Intelligence Agency researcher who gave classified documents to Ecuador; and Steven J. Lalas, a State Department staffer who spied for Greece.

"No matter how overwhelming the evidence can be, prosecuting espionage cases is never easy," said John L. Martin, the retired chief of internal security at the Justice Department. "Mark was prepared to the teeth."

Because of his successful record, Mr. Hulkower was picked in 1994 to be the lead prosecutor in the case against Ames.

A CIA counterintelligence officer, Ames became a double agent for the Soviet foreign intelligence service in 1985. His Soviet handlers paid Ames millions of dollars for funneling top-secret documents, including files that identified U.S. agents in the former Soviet Union.

At least 10 U.S. intelligence sources in the Soviet Union were executed because of Ames, Mr. Hulkower said, "as surely as if the defendant had pulled the trigger."

They died, Mr. Hulkower said, because "Ames wasn't making enough money with the CIA and wanted to live in a half-million dollar house and drive a Jaguar."

Ames pleaded guilty in 1994 to conspiracy to commit espionage and tax evasion. He is serving a life sentence at a U.S. penitentiary near Allenwood, Pa.

Mr. Hulkower also served as the prosecutor of Ames's wife, Maria del Rosario Casas Ames, who aided her husband's espionage work.

Rosario Ames recalled meeting Mr. Hulkower not long after her arrest on Feb. 21, 1994, at her home in North Arlington.

"This repugnant-looking Hulkower walks in," Ames's Colombian-born wife recalled in Pete Earley's 1997 book, "Confessions of a Spy." "He's very smooth, he tries to be very charming. . . . But I see him for what he is, a nasty, ill-bred creature who thinks he's great."


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