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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Feds Seize Stuff From Russian ‘Sleepers’

MANHATTAN (CN) - Federal prosecutors seek forfeiture of money and property that 10 Russian "sleeper" agents allegedly accumulated before they were arrested and deported this summer. Uncle Sam seized $192,000 in cash, bank accounts, cars and other property the alleged foreign agents amassed during their "deep cover" operations.

Though widely reported as spies, the 10 Russians admitted only to operating as unregistered foreign agents, and were deported. Though they held jobs in the United States under their assumed identities, the Russian Federation gave the defendants thousands of dollars for travel and to buy and rent property, equipment and vehicles, according to the federal forfeiture complaint.

Federal agents seized the cash from bank safety deposit boxes and the agent's homes, Assistant U.S. Attorney Anna Arreola said in the complaint.

Uncle Sam also seeks homes, cars, bank accounts, individual retirement accounts and businesses. The three cars involved are a Volkswagen, a BMW and a Land Rover, according to the complaint.

The agnets, who were arrested in June and deported to Russia in July, agreed in their pleas not to contest forfeiture, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

Seven used false identities as part of their "deep cover;" two of the agents did not use false identities, and one Peruvian national was charged with helping her husband, who was an undercover agent, according to the complaint.

Vladimir and Lydia Guryev, who assumed the identities of Richard and Cynthia Murphy, had a home, $80,000 in cash and two bank accounts as part of their cover, according to the complaint.

Andrey Bezrukov and Elena Vavilova, who assumed the identities of Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, had a home, four bank accounts and an unspecified amount of currency, according to the complaint.

Mikhail Kutsik and Natalia Pereverzeva, who assumed the identities of Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills, had $104,900 in cash, one bank account and two cars, according to the complaint.

Mikhail Anatonoljevich Vasenkov assumed the identity of Juan Lazaro and married Vicky Palaez, a Peruvian national, and the couple had a home together, according to the complaint.

Anna Chapman, who did not have an undercover identity, must forfeit at least two bank accounts.

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