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, attempts to relive her glory days by writing crime fiction and hosting FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast available for free subscription on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, and other popular podcast apps. Her nonfiction book FBI Myths and Misconceptions: A Manual for Armchair Detectives and her FBI corruption squad police procedurals featuring Special Agent Kari Wheeler are available wherever books are sold.

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