FOX FILES To Show Interview About CIA Spy Aldrich Ames

Sandy Grimes, Author, Mole Hunter, and Loyal Friend

Sandy Grimes, Author, Mole Hunter, and Loyal Friend


Two of the heroes in my book, CONFESSIONS OF A SPY, have written their own insider account about the hunt for CIA traitor, Aldrich Ames, and it’s a simply terrific read.

CIRCLE OF TREASON is a joint effort penned by Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille. Both of them and their book will be featured Sunday night [March 24] during a segment on Fox television’s FOX FILES.

I will be interviewed on that same program, but Sandy and Jeanne will be the stars.  Check local times for when it will air.

I kept in touch with Sandy and Jeanne after my book was published and encouraged them to write CIRCLE OF TREASON because there were stories about Ames and the men and women whom he betrayed that only Sandy and Jeanne could tell.

Sandy had worked closely with Soviet military General Dmitri Fedorovich Polyakov, one of our country’s most important sources during the Cold War. He was such a prize for U.S. intelligence that he was known inside the agency as “the Crown Jewel.”  Polyakov shared top secrets with us for more than TWENTY YEARS and was the highest-ranking Soviet military officer ever to spy for the U.S. during the Cold War.  Betrayed by FBI turncoat Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames, Polyacoff was arrested even though he had retired and had stopped spying for us.  The KGB ambushed him outside his dacha in 1986 and literally carried him away. He was sentenced to what Russians euphemistically refer to as vyshaya mera (the highest measure of punishment) where the condemned person is taken into a room, made to kneel, then shot in the back of the head. It is part of the Stalinist tradition.

Polyacoff’s incredible story is one of several told by Sandy and Jeanne. He was one of a dozen “human assets” working for the U.S. who were executed because of Ames and Hanssen.  Most of their personal stories have never before been told.

In addition to revealing information about what Gen. Polyakov and other operatives provided the CIA and FBI, Sandy and Jeanne have told their own personal stories in the book, giving readers an unvarnished look at what it was like for women to work in the CIA’s covert branch. Jeanne first started in the 1950s, Sandy a decade later.

When I read an advance reader’s copy of CIRCLE OF TREASON, I immediately agreed to write a “blur” for its cover because it was such a well-written, carefully researched and insightful book. I knew it would become mandatory reading for anyone interested in Cold War spying. What surprised me was that it was so well done that I knew it would also appeal to casual readers. You don’t have to be a spy junkie to follow the stories.

A few months before CIRCLE OF TREASON was scheduled to be published, Sandy sent me an email with horrific news. Jeanne was dying of cancer. True to form, Jeanne didn’t want to cause a fuss, in fact, the then 80-year old mole hunter didn’t even want a funeral or memorial service once she died. Sandy and her husband, Gary, spent three months caring for Jeanne. She died Dec. 29th, 2012 at 2 p.m. with Sandy at her bedside.

“Per Jeanne’s wishes — actually demands — there will be no memorial and no obituary,” Sandy explained in an email to me. “However, she did agree to allow contributions in her name to the CIA Memorial Officers’ Foundation.”

That was typical Jeanne. She was a no-nonsense, fastidious CIA employee who had no interest in notoriety. She helped write CIRCLE OF TREASON because she and Sandy wanted to honor the Russians who were executed helping us, not to brag. Like Sandy, Jeanne took Aldrich Ames’ betrayal personally  She considered him a cold blooded murderer and a morally weak man.

This is how she described him and explained his treason to me for my book. “As I see it, the money was never important to him (Ames), until he met Rosario (his wife.) If he had found some other woman who was not materialistic and who had said, ‘Okay, Rick, we’ve got to live on a budget because you only make this much money and we don’t need to eat at expensive restaurants or buy expensive clothing,’ then he would have gone along with that. He never would have been a spy. He was dominated by strong women. So it was a combination of his weaknesses and Rosario’s materialism that caused him to do it.”

Sandy was even more blunt when I interviewed her. “Do I want him punished? Oh, yes, yes, yes. I’m upset that he gets to read books (in prison.) I want vengeance for what he did and the people whom he destroyed. The death penalty wouldn’t bother me, but if not that, the worst thing that could happen to Rick Ames is for him to be forced to sit in a cell by himself. No television. No Radio. No writing materials. No Pen. Nothing at all. All alone. Let him just sit there and think about what he has done.”

CIRCLE OF TREASON fills a vacuum by putting human faces on Ames’ victims. It also is a tribute to its two authors. They not only helped catch the worse CIA traitor to date in U.S. history, they also proved to all of us that loyalty matters —  regardless of whether it is shown to your nation or to a dying  friend.

You can read about Jeanne’s last days and Sandy’s devotion to her here.

Congratulations Sandy, I’ll be watching Sunday night and joining others in being proud of you and Jeanne.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. Thank you Pete, again, for bringing worthwhile authors to light, these being two who chronicle modern history with all its inglorious actions and moral triumphs. We, in the U.S., armed to the teeth with personal and civil rights cannot begin to imagine the plight of many brave souls who have acted in defiance to their tyrannical governments. Both China and Russia have thrown social/political dissenters into mental institutions as prisoners, proclaiming them crazy for pursueing democracy and social justice. What is worse than being a mentally ill person involuntarily commited or remanded to jail w/ no treatment? Being perfectly sane and subjected to forced treament, abuse and degradation.
    One take-home message from Sandy’s book may be that we are all, as
    individuals, responsible for creating a sane, humane, and democratic society.One gossipy tongue, one greedy pocketbook, one head turned away from correcting evil, can bring down a community, a civilization.
    When it comes to mental illness, we are our brother’s keeper. Aside from infants, they are the most vulnerable of our population. A thinking, healthy mind is a threat to dictatorships – it is also what every person with mild to very serious mental illness wants to have. A thinking, healthy mind is a gift – and like all good gifts we obtain for free, it is moral duty to ensure that those who don’t have it, being just as worthy, benefit from us using that gift to help them along.
    Having been of psychotic mind many times over, I can say that the thinking, healthy mind is much more than a gift. You don’t know what you have till its gone. Sometimes I wonder, would we be a better humanity
    if each of us could be mentally ill for a week – would we then, truly love and respect our differences, and seek to heal…would stigma become a thing of the past for some author to write about?