Suburban lives of agent suspects

The New Jersey home of “Richard and Cynthia Murphy”, who were among those held by the FBI All the media coverage has suggested ordinary suburban lives

The arrest of nearly a dozen suspected Russian agents has shocked the suburban US communities where they lived.

The accounts of the lives of the 10 people arrested in the US for spying for Russia emphasise their ordinariness.

A media scrum gathered outside the unremarkable, wooden suburban home of the couple known as Richard and Cynthia Murphy in Montclair, New Jersey, after their arrest.

Jessie Gugig, 15, told the New York Times she did not believe the couple could be Russian agents.

"They couldn't have been spies. Look what she did with the hydrangeas."

Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley lived on Trowbridge Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Artist's impression of five of the 10 arrested Russian spy suspects in a New York courtroom Five of the suspects appeared in court in New York

Their neighbours were again shocked at the idea that they might be involved in anything untoward.

"I didn't have a clue about that at all," neighbour Montse Monne-Corbero told the Boston Globe. "They were my neighbors, and they were nice people. I thought they were from Europe.''

Ms Foley was courteous, nice and pretty, Ms Monne-Corbero told the newspaper.

The same neighbour told the New York Times that the couple's sons had shovelled snow for her in the winter, but that they had had loud parties.

Mr Heathfield had been a sales consultant at consulting firm Global Partners since 2000, the Boston Globe reported.

The company's website said: "Don has gained global experience as a manager, entrepreneur and scholar."

The website said his expertise was in "Global Business Development, Sales, Global Account Management, Global Leadership and Global Strategy Deployment" and listed his education as a degree in international economics from York University in Toronto, an MBA from Paris and some training at the London School of Economics.

Travel agent

"I'm absolutely floored," said Paul Hesselschwerdt, president of the firm. "He's a good person. He's lived in the United States for a long time. We're just completely shocked."

Mikhail Semenko, who lived in Virginia, had worked at the Travel All Russia agency for more than a year, the Washington Post reported. Mr Semenko was a conscientious and polite worker who specialised in travel plans for Chinese and Hispanic visitors, co-owner Slava Shirokov said.

"It's straight from a movie. I would never think of anything like this happening to Mikhail. It still seems quite surreal."

Vicky Pelaez, another of the suspects, works for El Diario/La Prensa, a Spanish language newspaper in New York.

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