Two accused spies admit to using fake identities

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Two Virginia suspects in an alleged spy ring have admitted they are Russian citizens living in the U.S. under false identities, prosecutors said Friday.

The defendants known as Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills told authorities their real names are Mikhail Kutzik and Natalia Pereverzeva, prosecutors said in a court filing Friday. They were arrested in Arlington, Va., where they have been living as a married couple with two young children.

Zottoli and Mills, along with a third defendant, Mikhail Semenko, remained in jail after waiving their right Friday to a detention hearing during brief appearances in federal court. They are among 11 people arrested this week.

Prosecutors said Zottoli and Mills gave information to authorities after being read their Miranda rights. According to court documents, Zottoli claims to be a U.S. citizen, born in Yonkers, N.Y., and is married to Mills, a purported Canadian citizen.

Prosecutors said Zottoli and Mills had $100,000 in cash and phony passports and other identity documents stashed in safe deposit boxes. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason B. Smith also wrote that Mills asked a family friend who has been caring for their two children since their arrest to take them to Russia to Mills' sister and parents.

Semenko, who was in the U.S. on a work visa, is not alleged to have used a false identity. But prosecutors said the FBI has searched his home and a second apartment that he recently leased and found computer equipment "of the type capable of being used for … clandestine communications."

Semenko's visa has been revoked. Zottoli, Mills and Semenko were charged with being foreign agents. Zottoli and Mills were also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Ex-husband speaks out

Alex Chapman, the former husband of Anna Chapman, 28, told Britain's Daily Telegraph in an interview published Friday that the arrest of his former wife "didn't come as much of a surprise." Chapman, 30, said his former wife once revealed to him that her father, a Russian diplomat, had been a senior KGB agent and that "she would do anything for her dad."

He said he met Anna Kushchenko at a rave party in London in 2001, when she was on vacation from studying economics at Moscow University. They married in Moscow in early 2002, and then moved to London. They divorced in 2006.

Vanishing trick: Cypriot Justice Minister Loucas Louca said Friday that alleged Russian spy paymaster Christopher Metsos, 54, who disappeared Wednesday after being released on bail, has likely fled the island. James Ellickson-Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Cyprus, flatly denied local media reports that Metsos is in U.S. custody at the embassy compound.

Two accused spies admit to using fake identities 07/03/10 [Last modified: Saturday, July 3, 2010 12:26am]

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