Yesterday, the Justice Department arrested a total of eight people for allegedly carrying out long-term, “deep-cover” assignments in the United States on behalf of the Russian Federation. These secret agents were planted in the U.S. and given fake identities and high-tech equipment in order to carry out a mission: “To search and develop ties in policymaking circles in the U.S. and to send reports to Center,” according to the federal complaint. To do this, the feds say, they used all kinds of cool spy stuff, like invisible handwriting, short-wave radio, codes and ciphers, and “brush passes” (Defined as “the clandestine, hand-to-hand delivery of items or payments made as one person walks by another in a public place”). Just like in the movies! But the following interaction between two of the spies, “Richard Murphy” of New Jersey and “Michael Zottoli” of Virginia, at what sounds like Tillie’s Coffee Shop in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, suggests it wasn’t always all glamour and excitement and metal briefcases and mysterious women with severe bangs.
From the complaint:
At approximately 11 am, agents conducting surveillance in Brooklyn observed that Murphy and Zottoli meet at a pay phone located at the corner of Vanderbilt and DeKalb Avenues, and then walk to a nearby coffee shop. Zottolli and Murphy sat down at a table together where they stayed for approximately one hour and fifty minutes. During that time, law enforcement agents stationed inside the coffee shop overheard Murphy and Zottoli discussing the problems the Seattle conspirators were having with the computer equipment that they used for communicating with the center. In response to Zottoli’s description of these communications problems, Murphy stated (in substance and in part), “This should help.” Murphy further responded (in substance and in part), “If this doesn’t work we can meet again in six months” and also said, “they don’t understand what we go through over here.”
Ah, frustration in the workplace. Cuts across all lines, doesn’t it.
Ten Alleged Secret Agents Arrested in the United State [Justice.gov]