Boston Federal prosecutors allege that two Cambridge residents were arrested in a national sweep for allegedly serving as spies for Russian intelligence. 10 other people were arrested as part of the sweep, all alleged spies living across the eastern seaboard. The couple, living in Cambridge as Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley, were arrested at their home in Cambridge on Sunday.
Both Heathfield and Foley were charged in Boston’s Federal Court with Conspiracy to Act an an Unregistered Agent of a Foreign Government and Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering.
In their indictment, prosecutors allege that the couple had met with an employee of the U.S. government regarding nuclear weapons research and had discussed a method for sending secret messages to Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow. As recently at 2006, a search of the couple’s townhouse led to the discovery of traces of deleted electronic messages that were believed to be part of messages that were later sent to Russian headquarters using a process called “steganogrphy” (a process where encrypted data can be placed on images on publicly available websites but without the data being visible to the casual user).
Boston Federal prosecutors also allege that Foley had traveled to Russian on a fake British passport that was prepared by Russian intelligence; and they also recovered an electronic message reminder to train herself to reproduce the signature.
Additionally, prosecutors believe that Heathfield was using the name of a deceased Canadian man. Boston Federal prosecutors allege to have found a copy of a birth certificate of a Canadian man named Donald Howard Graham Heathfield during a 2001 search of a safe deposit box in Cambridge; and also discovered a Canadian newspaper death announcement for Howard William Heathfield in 2005, which noted that his son, Donald Heathfield, was also deceased. Curiously, both the death announcement and the Canadian birth certificate refer to Donald Howard Heathfield’s mother as Shirley, suggesting that the defendant in this case was using this alias.
Both Heathfield and Foley are next scheduled to appear in Boston’s Federal Court on Thursday for a detention hearing.