What will hap­pen to chil­dren of spying sus­pects?

Off­spring of those charged face iden­tity, cit­i­zen­ship ques­tions

Austin American-Statesman - - WORLD & NATION - By David B. Caruso

NEW YORK — Chil­dren of­ten ask the ques­tion “Who am I?” as they come of age, but that’s noth­ing like the iden­tity cri­sis now con­fronting the sons and daugh­ters of four cou­ples ac­cused of spying for Rus­sia.

Over a tur­bu­lent week, at least some, and maybe all, have dis­cov­ered that mom and dad might not be who they said they were. The chil­dren’s cit­i­zen­ship, fam­ily his­tory and even their very names have been called into ques­tion.

At least two chil­dren in­volved in the case, ages 1 and 3, will soon be headed for Rus­sia.

Of the 11 peo­ple charged this week with be­ing mem­bers of a Rus­sian spy ring, eight were par­ents. Col­lec­tively, they are be­lieved to have eight chil­dren, al­though, like much else as­so­ci­ated with this strange post-Cold War spying case, the facts are hazy.

Some of the older chil­dren are likely al­ready wrestling with ques­tions about their iden­ti­ties.

Juan Lazaro Jr., a gifted 17-yearold pi­anist at New York’s LaGuardia High School for the per­form­ing arts, was named af­ter his fa­ther. But the FBI said this week that the dad’s name was fake, as was his claim to have been raised in South Amer­ica.

Tim Fo­ley, a 20-year-old stu­dent at Ge­orge Washington Uni­ver­sity, wrote on a blog that he was born in Toronto and grew up in Paris and Bos­ton. Now his true birth coun­try has been called into ques­tion. Pros­e­cu­tors say they have ev­i­dence the fam­ily is ac­tu­ally Rus­sian.

Two girls grow­ing up in sub­ur­ban Mont­clair, N.J., ages 7 and 11, were given the last name Mur­phy, but pros­e­cu­tors said that name was a lie, too.

“While the FBI has spent years con­duct­ing ex­ten­sive elec­tronic and phys­i­cal sur­veil­lance of the peo­ple who call them­selves the Mur­phys, there is no in­di­ca­tion that the Mur­phys’ chil­dren have any inkling that their par­ents are, in truth and in fact, Rus­sian se­cret agents,” As­sis­tant U.S. At­tor­ney Michael Far­biarz wrote in a court fil­ing Thurs­day.

Au­thor­i­ties haven’t re­vealed the where­abouts of 11-year-old Katie and 7-year-old Lisa Mur­phy, who were last seen by neigh­bors be­ing led from their home on the day of their par­ents’ ar­rest, car­ry­ing back­packs and pil­lows.

The fu­ture of many of the sus­pects’ chil­dren, es­pe­cially the youngest ones, is now in ques­tion.

U.S. im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials have de­clined to com­ment on the chil­dren’s sta­tus, cit­ing pri­vacy rules, but note that any per­son born in the United States is a cit­i­zen by right, ex­cept in cer­tain cases in­volv­ing the chil­dren of di­plo­mats or other for­eign govern­ment work­ers.

At least two of the chil­dren, the tod­dler and pre-schooler whose par­ents posed as Amer­i­can Michael Zottoli and Cana­dian Pa­tri­cia Mills, will be go­ing to Rus­sia. Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said Fri­day that the cou­ple ac­knowl­edged they are Rus­sian cit­i­zens and in­structed a fam­ily friend now car­ing for the chil­dren to con­tact relatives in Rus­sia to ar­range for the young­sters to go there.

In a let­ter filed Fri­day with a court in Ar­ling­ton, Va., pros­e­cu­tors said Zottoli’s real name is Mikhail Kutzik and Mills is ac­tu­ally Natalia Pereverzeva. They said that Pereverzeva’s par­ents, brother and sis­ter live in Rus­sia, as does Kutzik’s fa­ther.

By most ac­counts, the cou­ples charged in the case ap­peared to be car­ing par­ents. Sev­eral raised chil­dren who ex­celled.

Fo­ley wrote in his blog about speak­ing English, French and Ger­man and said he was learn­ing Chi­nese. He said he was ma­jor­ing in in­ter­na­tional af­fairs with a con­cen­tra­tion in Asian stud­ies, and he wrote about his plan to spend a se­mes­ter in Bei­jing.

His 16-year-old brother, Alex, at­tended the In­ter­na­tional School of Bos­ton, a pri­vate high school where some classes are taught in French and the theme is “shap­ing global cit­i­zens.”

Reached at home by tele­phone, the teen de­clined to talk about the case.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors have ques­tioned the fam­ily’s claim of Cana­dian her­itage. The boys’ fa­ther, they said, faked his cit­i­zen­ship by steal­ing the name Don­ald Heathfield from a Cana­dian baby who died in Mon­treal in 1963. In­ves­ti­ga­tors weren’t cer­tain where the boys’ mother, who went by Tracey Lee Ann Fo­ley, was born but have said they found pho­to­graphs of her taken when she was in her 20s that were de­vel­oped by a Soviet film com­pany.

The two sons were in court Thurs­day to watch a hear­ing in their par­ents’ case. The cou­ple smiled at the boys, and Alex waved in re­turn.

“My client and his wife right now are wor­ried about their kids,” Heathfield’s lawyer, Peter Krupp, said af­ter the hear­ing.

Lazaro could be re­united soon with his mother, Vicky Pe­laez, also a de­fen­dant in the case.

A fed­eral judge on Thurs­day said that Pe­laez — one of the few sus­pects whose name wasn’t in dis­pute — could be re­leased on bail as soon as Tues­day and be placed un­der house ar­rest in Yonkers.

The elder Juan Lazaro is to re­main be­hind bars for now. Pros­e­cu­tors said af­ter his ar­rest Sun­day that he ac­knowl­edged his name was fab­ri­cated and that he had been work­ing for the Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence ser­vice. In­ves­ti­ga­tors said he also ad­mit­ted his claim to be a na­tive of Uruguay wasn’t true. Pros­e­cu­tors said he spent his child­hood in the Soviet Union.

Pe­laez also has a 38-year-old son from a pre­vi­ous mar­riage, Waldo Mariscal, who said he had no knowl­edge of any spying ac­tiv­i­ties by ei­ther his mother or Lazaro and didn’t be­lieve the charges.

“This is pure psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure,” Mariscal said Thurs­day. “It’s to­tal con­fu­sion. He’s an old guy. His English isn’t so good.”

The par­ents of Tim Fo­ley, 20, left, and Alex Fo­ley, 16 – Don­ald Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Fo­ley – are ac­cused of be­long­ing to a Rus­sian spy ring.

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