Justice Department officials identified those arrested by federal agents at their homes by their aliases — Richard and Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, N.J.; Vicky Palaez and Juan Lazaro of Yonkers, N.Y.; Anna Chapman of New York; Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills of Arlington, Va.; Mikhail Semenko, also of Arlington; and Donald Heathfield and Tracey Foley of Boston.
Their real identifies were not listed.
An 11th suspect, Christopher R. Metsos, remains at large.
Court documents alleged that Cynthia Murphy “had several work-related personal meetings with” a prominent New York-based financier, who also was not named. The documents said Russian intelligence officials thought the man was an interesting target and urged the defendants to “try to build up little by little relations.”
The complaint noted that a poorly written memo suggested the man could provide Ms. Murphy with “remarks re US foreign policy, ‘roumors’ about White house internal ‘kitchen,’ invite her to venues (to major political party HQ in NYC, for instance In short, consider carefully all options in regard” to the financier.
The documents also described a communication system utilizing a short-range wireless network between laptop computers and encrypted messages between the computers while they were near each other.
According to court papers, undercover FBI agents posing as Russian intelligence officers met Saturday with Ms. Chapman at a New York restaurant and Mr. Semenko on a Washington street near the White House.
According to the complaint, Mr. Semenko also was observed on June 5 at a Washington restaurant, which he entered carrying a bag at about 11 a.m. The complaint said that 10 minutes later, an undercover FBI agent observed a car with a diplomatic license plate for Russia, enter the restaurant parking lot, drive around the parking lot, and then park.
The complaint said the driver, identified only as “Russian Government Official #2,” remained in the parking lot for approximately 20 minutes and then drove away. Within a few minutes, it said, Mr. Semenko left the restaurant. The complaint said the two men had communicated through a private wireless network while they were in the vicinity of each other.
According to the complaint, law-enforcement officers observed the Russian Government Official #2 entering and leaving the Russian Mission and later obtained from the State Department the visa application of a person identified as a “second secretary” of the Russian Mission. It said the photograph of the applicant in that visa application “is a photograph of Russian Government Official #2.”
Described as Russian intelligence officers, the 10 are named in separate criminal complaints with conspiring to act as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States.
Federal law prohibits persons from acting as agents of foreign governments within this country without prior notification to the U.S. attorney general. Nine of the defendants are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The charge of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government without notifying the U.S. attorney general carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison. All the defendants are charged with that violation. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
Two U.S. intelligence officials said that the Justice Department was withholding some information from the public and may bring more serious espionage charges later.
“This is a pretty big deal,” one official said. “We are very concerned about their activities. That’s why we rolled them up.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Jerry Seper is the investigative editor for The Washington Times.
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