Spy swapped in deal with Russia could return to house in Maryland suburb

A Baltimore County Police car sits outside a Cockeysville, Md., home owned by Alexander Zaporozhsky.
A Baltimore County Police car sits outside a Cockeysville, Md., home owned by Alexander Zaporozhsky. (Steve Ruark/associated Press)
By Annys Shin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 11, 2010

Scott Donahoo was convinced that his Russian neighbor was in the porn business.

About 10 years ago, when Donahoo spotted Alexander Zaporozhsky gardening in his yard, he stopped to introduce himself. At the time, he noted that Zaporozhsky had a heavy accent and a not-quite-convincing story. The Russian, who was living in a million-dollar property in an exclusive gated community in Cockeysville, said he ran an import-export business out of his house.

Donahoo, a well-known Baltimore auto dealer, had never heard of the firm. "My guess was he was in the porn business," Donahoo said. "How else can you make dough like that?"

It was one of the few occasions during Zaporozhsky's time in the United States that he appears to have aroused any suspicion.

As it happened, Zaporozhsky was a former KGB agent. His neighbors learned of his background in 2003, when a Russian court convicted him of spying for the United States and sentenced him to 18 years of hard labor.

On Friday, Zaporozhsky was one of four men Russia handed over to the West in exchange for the 10 "sleeper" agents the FBI arrested in June. His whereabouts, and that of the other individuals exchanged as part of the swap, remained unclear Saturday.

He may very well be headed back to Maryland, where his two sons live. He also still owns a house in Cockeysville, a suburb 20 miles north of Baltimore.

If Zaporozhsky comes back to Cockeysville, he will find that much has changed since he left. His wife, Galina, died last fall at age 55. His younger son, Maxim, lives in the house now, along with a woman neighbors believe is his wife. His older son, Paul, lives two miles away in a townhouse he bought in 2004 with his wife, Svetlana.

More significantly, perhaps, Zaporozhsky will find it harder to keep a low profile. This past week, at least one news truck parked outside his house and reporters from various news organizations shuttled from door to door in the neighborhood.

Conflicting accounts

According to Russian news accounts at the time of his trial, Zaporozhsky started out as a KGB agent in the 1970s, spending several years in Africa and later as chief of the Latin America Department. He rose to the rank of second colonel of the post-Soviet Foreign Intelligence Service. He then left the service, but Russian officials offered conflicting accounts of the circumstances around his departure.

One said he worked as a double agent in Russia from 1995 to 1997, then quit suddenly and left secretly for the United States by way of Prague. Another official said he was discharged from the service in the early 1990s and was recruited by the CIA in 1995.

In any case, Zaporozhsky appeared in the United States in early 1998. The next year, he paid $980,000 for a home nestled in a wooded area of Cockeysville, property records show. His entire immediate family moved in, including his wife, his sons and a daughter-in-law, said Cynthia Rohde, who later bought the house with her husband.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company