Suspected Russian Spy Earned Degrees at Columbia, NYU

By Nicole Bode on June 30, 2010 6:00pm | Updated on July 1, 2010 9:24am

This undated photo obtained by The Associated Press shows Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, N.J. Murphy is one of 11 people arrested and accused of being members of a Russian spy ring operating under deep cover in America's suburbs.
This undated photo obtained by The Associated Press shows Cynthia Murphy of Montclair, N.J. Murphy is one of 11 people arrested and accused of being members of a Russian spy ring operating under deep cover in America's suburbs.
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AP Photo

By Nicole Bode

DNAinfo Senior Editor

MANHATTAN – One of the suspects busted in a 11-person “deep cover” Russian spy ring got her MBA from Columbia Business School and two undergraduate degrees from New York University.

Suspected Russian spy Cynthia Murphy was part of Columbia Business School's class of 2010 after collecting a bachelor’s degree from NYU Stern School of Business in 2000, and an associate’s degree from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies in 1997, according to her LinkedIn profile.

The universities confirmed that a student named Cynthia Murphy attended their institutions and declined to comment further.

Murphy, 35, of Montclair N.J., majored in finance and international business at Stern, and belonged to the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society there, according to her LinkedIn profile. She juggled her studies with a job at Morea Financial Services in lower Manhattan, where she had worked since 1997, the profile says. The company reportedly paid her $135,000 a year.

A woman who answered the phone at Morea Financial Services declined to comment on Murphy's employment Tuesday.

According to a federal complaint filed Monday, Murphy and 10 others, including her husband Richard Murphy and Financial District beauty Anna Chapman, spent decades cultivating their appearance as normal Americans, all the while carrying on covert missions to feed intel to the Russian Federation (SVR) back in Moscow.

“During 2009, the SVR directed Cynthia Murphy, the defendant, to ‘strengthen … ties with classmates on daily basis incl. professors who can help in job search and who will have (or already have) access to secret info,’ and to ‘[r]eport to C[enter] on their detailed personal data and character traits w. preliminary conclusions about their potential (vulnerability) to be recruited by Service,” federal prosecutors wrote in their complaint.

“In addition, the SVR has directed Cynthia Murphy to collect information on certain University associates: ‘C suggests that N [Murphy] keeps trying to ‘dig up’ personal data of those students who apply (or are hired already) for a job at CIA.,” the complaint reads.

In this courtroom sketch, Anna Chapman (L.) Vicky Pelaez, second from left, the defendant known as
In this courtroom sketch, Anna Chapman (L.) Vicky Pelaez, second from left, the defendant known as "Richard Murphy" (C.) the defendant known as "Cynthia Murphy", second from right, and the defendant known as "Juan Lazaro" in Manhattan federal court on June 28.
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AP Photo/Elizabeth Williams

Among the high-powered pols that were allegedly in Cynthia Murphy's sights was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to the Daily News. Murphy's company handled the finances of venture capitalist Alan Patricof, a bigwig Democratic donor and former finance chairman of Clinton's 2008 presidential run.

Still, it seemed that the alleged spies weren't very adept at learning secrets.

The suspects were arraigned Monday in Manhattan Federal Court and are being held without bail.

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