Ten individuals pleaded guilty July 8 in Manhattan federal court to conspiring to serve as unlawful agents of the Russian Federation within the United States and will be immediately expelled from the United States, the Justice Department announced today.
In hearings today before Judge Kimba M. Wood in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, each of the 10 defendants arrested on June 27, 2010, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government within the United States without notifying the U.S. Attorney General. Under their plea agreements, the defendants were required to disclose their true identities in court today and to forfeit certain assets attributable to the criminal offenses.
The defendants known as “Richard Murphy” and “Cynthia Murphy” admitted they are Russian citizens named Vladimir Guryev and Lydia Guryev and are agents of the Russian Federation. Defendants “Michael Zottoli” and “Patrica Mills” admitted they are Russian citizens named Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva, and are agents of the Russian Federation. Defendants “Donald Howard Heathfield” and “Tracey Lee Ann Foley” admitted they are Russian citizens named Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, and are agents of the Russian Federation. “Juan Lazaro” admitted that he is a Russian citizen named Mikhail Anatonoljevich Vasenkov and is an agent of the Russian Federation.
The defendants Vicky Pelaez, Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko, who operated in this country under their true names, admitted that they are agents of the Russian Federation; and Chapman and Semenko admitted they are Russian citizens.
The United States has agreed to transfer these individuals to the custody of the Russian Federation. In exchange, the Russian Federation has agreed to release four individuals who are incarcerated in Russia for alleged contact with Western intelligence agencies.
“This was an extraordinary case, developed through years of work by investigators, intelligence lawyers, and prosecutors, and the agreement we reached today provides a successful resolution for the United States and its interests,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.
“Counterintelligence is a top FBI investigative priority, and this case in particular represents the dedicated efforts of the men and women who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to counter the efforts of those who would steal our nation's vital secrets,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller.
This case is the result of a multi-year investigation conducted by the FBI and other elements of the U.S. intelligence community; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; and the Counterespionage Section and the Office of Intelligence within the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Farbiarz, Glen Kopp, and Jason Smith of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and Trial Attorneys Kathleen Kedian and Richard Scott of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
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