CIA Director Porter Goss' (search) choice for the agency's No. 3 position said Monday he has turned down the job after a news report revealed he had resigned from the CIA (searchunder pressure 23 years ago after a shoplifting arrest.

But Michael V. Kostiw (search) will remain with the agency, serving as senior adviser to Goss, who took office last month.

The Washington Post, citing unidentified sources, reported Sunday that Kostiw had been caught shoplifting in 1981. After Kostiw took a polygraph test, the agency placed him on administrative leave for several weeks, it said.

Agency officials then arranged for misdemeanor theft charges to be dropped in return for his resignation and agreement to get counseling, the newspaper said.

In a statement issued by Kostiw, he cited "press articles and attendant speculation" in his decision to turn down the executive director job Goss has offered him.

"Allegations about my past would be a distraction from the critical work the director of central intelligence needs to focus on" and from the fight against terrorism and other national security challenges, he said. The statement did not address the accuracy of the report.

An intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity said Kostiw was sworn in to the adviser position Monday after passing the required security checks. The official declined to reveal Kostiw's salary.

The CIA's executive director oversees the agency's personnel and budgets, a role similar to that of a chief operating officer.