Businessman: Accused Russian spy tried to recruit me
Alleged Russian spy Donald Heathfield tried to recruit an Atlanta businessman to sell contracts to federal agencies, the businessman tells the Cambridge Chronicle.
Aaron Estis, CEO of an Atlanta management consultant group, said Heathfield advertised his company, Future Map, on a Harvard messageboard.
Healhfield was arrested Sunday night on Trowbridge Street in Cambridge along with his wife, Tracy Lee Ann Foley, and accused by the FBI of being part of a large Russian spy ring.
Heathfield told Estis that he was looking for someone to “go to Washington D.C. to sell this piece of software to federal agencies.” The software essentially helps organizations keep track of strategic initiatives.
Estis, who never entered into any business agreement with Heathfield, said he first talked to an unidentified person in Singapore and then to Heathfield.
“If he were successful in doing that, he probably wouldn’t get classified information,” said Estis. “But he would get early information about what agencies are doing.”
Heathfield formed Future Map in 2005, according to state records.
Heathfield maintained a vibrant virtual rolodex on LinkedIn, obtained by the Chronicle. A former U.S. Army War College professor, a U.S. Army spokesman and a Rhode Island education official were just some of the contacts the alleged Russian spy known as Donald Heathfield kept in his virtual rolodex, all of which was obtained by the Chronicle.
The contacts are not part of Heathfield’s public profile on the business social networking site.
Many of Heathfield’s connections were Kennedy School alums, including Deborah Gist, Rhode Island’s Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. But others were luminaries in the business world and even a former professor at U.S. Army War College. Dr. Jim Downey, who previously taught at the War College and currently works at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va., is listed as one of Heathfield’s contacts. Gist did not return a call seeking comment. Downey, through a spokeswoman, said his only interaction with Heathfield was regarding Future Map, but did not elaborate.
Dan Carpenter, a Kennedy School grad who works as director of public affairs at US Army, Presidio of Monterey, is another one of Heathfield’s contacts.
“I won’t have any comment for publication,” said Carpenter.
Sam Delson, who went to Kennedy School with Heathfield and is now deputy director at the California Environmental Protection Agency, said he didn't know Heathfield too well.
"I certainly had no idea he was involved in anything untoward," said Delson. "I do remember he was very good at networking and organizing business events."
Delson also said Heathfield was from Canada and "proud of it." He and four other classmates called themselves the "Canada Club," Delson said.
According to the FBI, the married couple adopted Canadian identities and have been living in the Boston area for 11 years. They claim to be naturalized American citizens who were born in Canada. The FBI said that the man known as Heathfield actually posed as Donald Howard Graham Heathfield, a Canadian man who was born in 1962 and died in 2005.
The couple was among 10 Russian intelligence officers arrested on suspicion of serving as illegal agents of the Russian government in the United States.
Auditi Guha contributed to this report.