Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Spy Case: Meet the Russian 11

Nation
Mara Gay

Mara Gay Contributor

(June 29) -- So far, little is known about the true identities of the 11 people accused of spying for Russia. But the group has at least one thing in common: Their neighbors are shocked.

From Seattle to New York, neighbors and acquaintances have described the suspects as strikingly ordinary members of the community, upstanding citizens who walked their children to the bus stop and seemed to enjoy things like gardening. In other words, they fit it.

A look at the suspects:

Cynthia and Richard Murphy, Montclair, N.J.

Who they are: The New Jersey couple appeared to be living the American dream in a $481,000 colonial in an upper-middle-class neighborhood, along with their two young daughters.

Alleged cover: The Star-Ledger of Newark reports that neighbors thought Cynthia was an accountant working on her MBA, and Richard an architect.

Background: Richard claims to be from Philadelphia, and Cynthia says she was born Cynthia A. Hopkins in New York City. The FBI, however, says they've been in the United States since the 1990s.

The kicker: According to one neighbor, Cynthia was a solid gardener as well. "They couldn't have been spies," Jessie Gugig, 15, told The New York Times. "Look what she did with the hydrangeas."

Patricia Mills and Michael Zottoli, Arlington, Va.

Who they are: A couple with a toddler son and a baby who lived in a high-end apartment in Arlington, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C. According to WUSA9 news, neighbors described them as "friendly" and "social."

Background: Mills claims to be a Canadian citizen, and Zottoli says he was born in Yonkers, N.Y. According to the FBI, however, Zottoli has only been in the United States since 2001.

Tracey Foley and Donald Heathfield, Cambridge, Mass.

Who they are: Foley and Heathfield were known as a married couple, maybe in their 40s, who lived in an apartment in Cambridge with their two teenage sons.

Power couple: Foley is a licensed real estate agent with Redfin in the Boston area, which says it didn't notice anything out of the ordinary when it hired her. "Redfin validated her social security number, her deal history and that her real estate license was in good standing," the company said on its corporate blog today. "As with every agent we hire, we ran a criminal background check, which came up clean."

Heathfield, Foley's husband, is a senior business consultant with an international management firm based in Cambridge. According to his LinkedIn profile, Heathfield's specialties include "Comprehensive management of Risks and Uncertainties," and "Capture of Strategic Opportunities."

In 2000, he received a degree from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Former Harvard classmate Craig Sandler told The Boston Globe that Heathfield seemed "a little bit mysterious."

The kicker: Heathfield had apparently assumed the identity of a Canadian baby who died in 1962.

Vicky Pelaez and Juan Lazaro, Yonkers, N.Y.

Who they are: The married couple lived in Yonkers, outside of New York City, with their son, Waldo Mariscal. Pelaez is Peruvian born. Mariscal told The Wall Street Journal today that the only connection his mother had to Russia was a passion for Tchaikovsky.

Alleged cover: Pelaez was a well-known columnist with El Diario/La Prensa, one of the country's oldest Spanish-language news outlets. Lazaro was a professor at Baruch College in New York.

The kicker: Lazaro's students told The New York Times he was a fan of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and vehemently disagreed with U.S. foreign policy.

Anna Chapman, New York City

Who she is: Chapman, 28, says she runs an online real estate business. But according to the feds, she met regularly with a Russian official to exchange sensitive information.

The kicker: Chapman is a looker. And the Village Voice, which broke the story about sexy banker Debrahlee Lorenzana, is worried that Chapman may be too sexy to be a spy. "Anna Chapman -- if that is her real name -- is hot," the paper wrote. The New York Post calls her "red hot."

Mikhail Semenko, Arlington, Va.

Who he is: Semenko, who is described as being in his late 20s, seems to be the flashiest suspect. He drove a Mercedes S500 and spoke to his girlfriend in Russian, The New York Times reports.

Robert Christopher Metsos

Who he is: The 55-year old was arrested in Cyprus late Monday and is thought to be a Canadian citizen.

Elizabeth Williams, AP
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Anna Chapman, left; Vicky Pelaez, second from left; the defendant known as "Richard Murphy," center; the defendant known as "Cynthia Murphy," second from right; and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" are seen in a courtroom sketch Monday. They are among the 11 people the FBI arrested for allegedly serving for years as secret agents of Russia's intelligence agency.
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http://www.aolcdn.com/ke/media_gallery/v1/ke_media_gallery_wrapper.swf
Suburban Spy Ring?
Anna Chapman, left; Vicky Pelaez, second from left; the defendant known as "Richard Murphy," center; the defendant known as "Cynthia Murphy," second from right; and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" are seen in a courtroom sketch Monday. They are among the 11 people the FBI arrested for allegedly serving for years as secret agents of Russia's intelligence agency.
Elizabeth Williams, AP
Elizabeth Williams, AP
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