Loyalty to Mother Russia Trumps Love for Son

Feds: Russian Mole Confesses

By Tim Minton and Alice McQuillan
|  Thursday, Jul 1, 2010  |  Updated 10:17 PM EDT
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Loyalty to Mother Russia Trumps Love for Son

Jane Rosenberg

The alleged Russian spies in Manhattan Federal Court: L-R: Judge Ronald Ellis, Anna Chapman, Vicki Pelael, Cynthia Murphy, Richard Murphy (red shirt), Juan Lazaro

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Loyalty to Russia trumps love for his son, says an alleged secret agent.

In a surprising confession, retired college professor Juan Lazaro also admited that the Russians paid for his Yonkers home and that he passed letters to their intelligence service -- but he still refused to reveal his true name, according to a document federal prosecutors released Thursday.

The nine-page document, containing these incriminating statements, was an argument  against bail for the alleged ring of moles in Northeastern cities and suburbs who were appearing in court hearings in three states. 

Prosecutors lost the argument when it came to Lazaro's wife, Vicky Pelaez, a columnist for El Diario la Prensa.  A Manhattan federal judge granted the 55-year-old $250,000 bail, under electronic monitoring and house arrest,  late Thursday afternoon saying "in contrast to the other defendants there is no indication she is a trained agent." 

Denied bail were Cynthia Murphy, 35, a former Columbia University MBA student who allegedly tried to recruit fellow moles on campus, and her husband Richard Murphy, 39, of Montclair, New Jersey.    Judge Ronald Ellis said "the court just doesn't know who these defendants are."

Lazaro, 66, asked that his bail hearing be postponed -- as it was for five other suspects appearing in federal court in Boston and Alexandria Virginia.

In their letter to Judge Ellis, prosecutors suggested Russia would help the suspects escape if they got bail. In a tellingly placed footnote, the prosecutors also appear to hint that Russian diplomats in New York are not cooperating with the investigation.

And prosecutors revealed that they recently found a stash of $80,000, divided among eight envelopes filled with crisp $100 bills, inside a safe deposit box linked to the suspects.

These details emerged on a day when nine alleged spies, whose trail of invisible ink and buried cash sounds like a John Le Carre novel, appeared in bail hearings in three states.

Missing was the ring's most famous face, Anna Kuschenko Chapman, the 28-year-old redheaded Manhattanite who already lost her bid for bail.

Also missing was the ring's alleged money man and main contact, Canadian Christopher Metsos, 54, who vanished in Cyprus Wednesday after a judge freed him on $32,500 bail. 

Lazaro,  a retired CUNY professor, and his wife are accused of collecting money from the Russians in South America in exchange for passing information. Prosecutors revealed that their Yonkers home has been bugged "for years," with hidden microphones.

Prosecutors said Lazaro gave "a lengthy post-arrest statement" last Sunday after waiving his Miranda warnings.  He flatly chose his spy work over his son but for all this alleged candor, stayed mum about his true identity, prosecutors said.

"Although he [Lazaro] loved his son, he would not violate his loyalty to the 'Service' even for his son.  Lazaro refused to provide his true name," according to the Feds' document.

Prosecutors suggested that Russia will help these alleged moles escape the U.S. if they get bail.  "Moscow has invested a great deal in the conspirators and there is no doubt that Russia has significant resources that can be brought to ber here."

The feds also said that an unnamed individual has ignored a grand jury subpoena issued Monday -- and placed that news in a footnote following this argument suggesting that Russian diplomats in Manhattan would shield the suspects from the law:

"Moreover, the defendants here would hardly need to flee the United States to ensure that they are outside of the reach of the criminal justice system -- the defendants would not even need to leave Manhattan.  A Russian consulate, and the Russian Mission to the United Nations, are [all] located in New York City," prosecutors wrote.

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