Suspected Russian Spies Appear in Court
By Channing Turner | July 1, 2022 5:11 pm

Alleged Russian spies Patricia Mills (left) and Mikhail Semenko appear in court. (Getty)

In a fifth-floor courtroom overlooking Alexandria, Va., three of the 10 defendants suspected of being 21st-century Russian spies appeared for the first time at a detention hearing Thursday.

The hearing, crowded with reporters, ran less than five minutes before U.S. Magistrate Judge Theresa Buchanan in courtroom in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria. But the brief hearing provided a glimpse into the case developing against what Justice Department prosecutors say was a modern-day spy ring.

Defendants Patricia Mills and Michael Zottoli — possible aliases for their true names — entered the courtroom in clean, dark green jumpsuits.

The couple — who married in Seattle, moved to Arlington last year and claim to be U.S. and Canadian citizens, according to Wired — sat side-by-side at the defendant’s table. Mills wore her long, brownish-black hair loose. Throughout the hearing, they stole glances at the courtroom’s gallery.

Mills and Zottoli were guarded closely by their lawyers, Charles Burnham of Burnham & Gorokhov PLLC and Geremy Kamens. Shortly after introductions, Kamens requested a continuance based on “new information from the government.” The judge granted his request for both parties, postponing the detention hearing until Friday at 1:30 p.m.

The third suspect, Mikhail Semenko, appeared alone and without representation. His dark brown hair closely-cropped, Semenko wore a haggard expression. Semenko had expressed his intent to hire a lawyer during a previous hearing closed to the public but had apparently failed to find one. When asked by the judge if he would like a court-appointed attorney, Semenko demurely agreed, speaking briefly in an Eastern Europe accent.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Smith, of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit for the Southern District of New York, appeared for the government.

All 10 of the suspected spies will be prosecuted from the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, said Peter Carr, spokesman at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“The trial itself, if they have a trial, would likely be in New York,” Carr said.

Christopher Metsos (DOJ)

Federal authorities arrested the suspects in Boston, New York, and Virginia on Sunday, concluding an investigation that officials said illuminated a network of secret agents and long-term spies in the U.S.

A detention hearing in Boston for two of the other suspects — Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley — was postponed until July 16.

Four more suspects — Juan Lazaro, Vicky Pelaez, Richard Murphy and Cynthia Murphy — are expected to appear in court in Manhattan later this afternoon.The Justice Department plans to ask that they be detained, according to CNN, and said in court documents that Larazo has given a statement to authorities admitting he worked for Russian intelligence.

The 10th suspect, Anna Chapman — who has become something of an internet sensation for her sultry photos posted online — appeared in court Tuesday and was ordered held.

Another alleged spy, Christopher Metsos, was arrested in Cyprus earlier this week and let out on bond. He has since disappeared.


Comments are closed.

  • Former Owner of Empire Towers Pleads Guilty for Fraudulent $7 Million Bond Scheme and Filing False Tax Return
  • Deutsche Bank's London Subsidiary Agrees to Plead Guilty in Connection with Long-Running Manipulation of LIBOR
  • Northern California Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud Conspiracies at Public Foreclosure Auctions
  • Service Members to Receive Over $123 Million for Unlawful Foreclosures Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
  • Justice Department and State Partners Secure $1.375 Billion Settlement with S&P; for Defrauding Investors in the Lead Up to the Financial Crisis
  • Northern California Real Estate Investor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions
  • Eleven Northern California Real Estate Investors Indicted for Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions
  • Alabama Real Estate Investor Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Mail Fraud
  • Five Northern California Real Estate Investors Indicted for Bid Rigging and Fraud at Public Foreclosure Auctions
  • Two Former Rabobank Traders Indicted for Alleged Manipulation of U.S. Dollar, Yen Libor Interest Rates