MANHATTAN (CN) - Accused of engaging in economic espionage for Russia, a Bronx man on Friday pleaded down to a conspiracy charge that will dramatically reduce his sentencing exposure to 30 months.
Evgeny Buryakov, 41, was the only man arrested early last year among three indicted for allegedly spying on U.S. economic intelligence about potential sanctions against Russian banks and plans for alternative energy resources.
His alleged co-conspirators Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podohbnyy no longer live in the United States and remain at large.
In his original indictment, federal prosecutors said that Buryakov worked for Russia's foreign intelligence agency, known as the Sluzhba vneshney razvedki (SVR), in the Manhattan office of the Russian bank Vnesheconombank.
Buryakov's superseding indictment, which does not mention SVR, carried two counts prohibiting conspiracies to defraud the United States and being an agent of a foreign government.
On Friday, Buryakov pleaded guilty to one of those counts in a plea deal only including the fraud count. He will be sentenced May 25.
In a carefully worded statement, Buryakov said: "I knowingly agreed with Igor Sporyshev, who I knew to be an official of the Russian Federation, namely an official with the New York Office of the Trade Mission of the Russian Federation, that I would take certain actions in the United States at Mr. Sporyshev's direction, without my having provided prior notification as an agent of the Russian Federation, as required, to the Attorney General."
"In furtherance of said agreement, in the Southern District of New York, on or about May 21, 2013, I used a telephone to speak with Mr. Sporyshev about information that Mr. Sporyshev wanted," he added.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara cut through the legalese.
"An unregistered intelligence agent, under cover of being a legitimate banker, gathers intelligence on the streets of New York City, trading coded messages with Russian spies who send the clandestinely collected information back to Moscow," Bharara wrote in a statement. "This sounds like a plotline for a Cold War-era movie, but in reality, Evgeny Buryakov pled guilty today to a federal crime for his role in just such a scheme."
Buryakov's attorney in the criminal case, Scott Hershman of White & Case LLP, declined to comment.
On Feb. 11, Buryakov settled a civil lawsuit by his landlord accusing him of being a lousy tenant and a childrens-toy thief.
After Buryakov's arrest, his family allegedly swiped wooden toys belonging to the landlords' 11-year-old son in their rush to abandon their apartment, which located a short hop away from the official mission of the Russian Federation in the Bronx after his arrest, according to the complaint.
Vnesheconombank agreed to pay $45,000 to settle those claims last month, court records show.
Buryakov's civil attorney did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
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