Episode 079: Joe Wolfinger – Family Espionage, John Walker Spy Ring

Retired agent Joe Wolfinger served nearly 30 years with the FBI. During his Bureau career, he rose through a variety of positions—serving as a squad supervisor, inspector, Special Agent in Charge (SAC), and lastly, as Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) of the FBI Academy at Quantico, VA. In this episode of FBI Retired Case File Review, Joe Wolfinger is interviewed about his supervision of the counterintelligence squad in Norfolk, VA and the investigation of John Walker, a retired U.S. Navy chief warrant officer and communications specialist who sold secrets about American military codes to the Soviets for nearly 20 years. He also recruited his friend, brother and son and together they caused extensive damage to America’s national security. The John Walker spy ring has been described as the “most damaging Soviet spy ring in history. Walker pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. For those who want to learn more about the investigation, Joe Wolfinger recommends retired case agent Bob Hunter’s book Spy Hunter: Inside the FBI Investigation of the Walker Espionage Case. After retiring from the FBI, Wolfinger served pro bono for fourteen years as the executive director of the Major County Sheriff’s Association.

Assistant Director in Charge (Retired)

Joe Wolfinger

7/14/1969 – 1/1/1999










The following are an FBI article and newspaper articles about the Norfolk FBI Office’s investigation of the John Walker  spy ring:

FBI Website – Year of the Spy (1985) – John Walker

USNI News – The John Walker Spy Ring and The U.S. Navy’s Biggest Betrayal

UPI Archives – Walker: Espionage crimes no worse than insider trading

Washington Post – John A. Walker Jr., who led family spy ring, dies at 77

1990 miniseries – Family of Spies

John Walker’s drop site rendezvous pick up instructions.










The brown paper bag drop package was topped off with trash, but it also contained 125 pages of classified documents.










John Walker (left) with the Grand Dragon of the Klu Klux Klan.









Case agent Bob Hunter’s book details his personal account of his arrest and interview of John Walker. It can be purchased here.














Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 250 episodes available for free on all popular podcast apps.


  1. HannahJanuary 8, 2020

    I’ve been working through all of your episodes, but I think this might be my favorite – the case itself was fascinating (and remarkable in its impact) and Joe was just a delight to listen to with his attention to detail, gratitude to his fellow agents, and his sense of humor! Thank you for sharing this one, Jerri!

    1. Jerri WilliamsJanuary 8, 2020

      Thanks for listening!


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