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Vicky Pelaez: Can someone be married to a Russian spy and not know it?

Vicky Pelaez: A willing spy for Russia or a wife deeply betrayed? Or something in between? Exactly what the Peruvian journalist knew is one of the more tantalizing mysteries to emerge from the Russian spy saga.

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The two were "a normal couple," very affectionate with one another, said Medrano. He said he met with Lazaro during a visit to New York by a Peruvian president — he didn't remember which — and Lazaro was juggling his studies with a night job cleaning a restaurant.

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Elvira Pelaez told reporters Lazaro was an honest and hardworking man who had always been an "incredible support" to his wife. Pelaez dedicated her 2004 collection of columns to her children and to Lazaro, whom she called her "comrade and guide of all dreams."

Manny Patino, a former photographer at El Diario La Prensa and a friend of Pelaez, recalled filming a piano concert of Juan Jr.'s about two years ago, in an East Village school.

"They both looked very proud of their son," said Patino. "I think their marriage was legitimate. She was a very good mother. She truly cared for her son."

It is not exactly clear when the espionage activity began, though it appears it was in the 1990s. The couple both pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of a foreign country.

A criminal complaint accused Pelaez of receiving a package of cash from a Russian contact in a park "in a South American country" in 2000, and said Lazaro received money in the same park in 2007.

Authorities also alleged the couple passed messages in invisible ink, and that surveillance of their Yonkers home in 2003 revealed "the irregular electronic clicking sounds associated with the receipt of coded radio transmissions."

Perhaps most stunningly, to many, Lazaro said, according to prosecutors, that although he loved his child, "He would not violate his loyalty to the 'Service' even for his son."

So what happens now? Pelaez may be on her way soon to Peru, where she may shed light on her strange saga. Her children' future is up in the air. But her older son said he was sure they would eventually be together.

"Are we going to reunite?" Mariscal said outside the home. "Yes. We have a nice adobe house in Peru that my mother built little by little."



Noveck reported from New York. Associated Press writers Carla Salazar in Lima, Peru, and Larry Neumeister, Tom Hays and Carla Torrens in New York contributed to this report.