As he told us a couple of weeks ago, attorney Scott Palmer was hired to represent Anna Fermanova two hours before her detention hearing in Dallas federal court on July 15. No way he imagined that a few days later, his client -- popped by the feds for trying to take to Russia three high-priced, high-powered night-vision scopes on the do-not-transport list -- would be New York tabloid fodder. But surely, he figured, once the papers wore out the "sexy Russian spy" thing and the Anna Chapman angle, that was that -- headline to footnote, right?
Wrong. Fermanova, who's been under house arrest at her folks' house in Plano the last few weeks, was in New York federal court this morning for her arraignment hearing, and "we got hounded by reporters and photographers out there snapping shots like paparazzi," Palmer told Unfair Park this evening as he was boarding a plane at JFK bound for DFW International. "They followed us from the hotel to the courthouse back to the hotel and to lunch. The wanted pictures of her. She's a tabloid sensation here. It's a little much. It was a little tense this morning before court. One attorney hip-checked a photographer, thinking he was doing me a favor. But that's how they are up here."
As in: "The accused weapons parts runner headed to Manhattan to dine at Union Square's pricey Blue Water Grill," reports The New York Daily News. (Says Palmer, it was "very tasty.") And The New York Post lead with: "Anna Fermanova -- that sexy suspected smuggler -- had her bail conditions relaxed by a Brooklyn federal judge today so she can try to find a job as both sides look to broker a plea deal." All of it's "very surreal," says Palmer. "To everyone else, it's yesterday's news. Not for them."
So, then, to the actual outcome of today's news -- that hearing in Brooklyn.
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The judge lifted the home confinement, and Fermanova will remain free on $50,000 bond till an October 8 hearing in New York. Between now and then, Palmer says, he'll work with the U.S Attorney's Office "to come to a resolution somehow. We got a little breathing room, and now she can get a job and pay her parents back."
Palmer, incidentally, has no problem with the feds. He understands why they're going after his client: "Because people will take these night-vision scopes to the Middle East and try to put them in the hands of the enemy. And I understand that. They don't have that kind of night-vision technology there. And that's from the U.S. Attorney's mouth. But that's not the case here. And I told them: 'Don't treat [Anna] like she's some enemy combatant.' And they're not. But that's their stance. And it's valid and honorable -- anything that hurts our troops is not good."
Incidentally, he says, the Help Anna Fermanova website that just popped up? Palmer says his client has nothing to do with it -- even though it says, "I'm a good Jewish girl, from a very close knit Jewish family which I love dearly. I will be sincerely grateful for all of your help." The attorney says that was actually posted by Fermanova's cousin's boyfriend, who's hoping to help her raise money to cover legal fees and travel costs. Says Palmer, they're raised about $500 so far.
"She asked me if she should take it down," Palmer says. "I told her to leave it -- because she is a nice Jewish grl from a nice Jewish family, so there's nothing wrong with it."