The meeting ended abruptly—Chapman's crew was interested in learning how PropertyShark gathers its data, and Haines had no intention of telling them. "Believe me," he says, "I've been around the world, and I've met women, and I think I know how to think with my brain and not with my dick, but . . . " Within 24 hours Staniford had sent her an e-mail asking her to dinner at a steak house. She said yes right away. "It wasn't just that she was attractive," he says. "She was also quite intelligent. I wanted to know more."
Bill: I had a dream about you and your black pants last night . . . I would like to go back to that steakhouse on Friday if that is OK with you. I haven't had steak since then.
Anna: Weirdo. I wanna see your flat though. :)
Staniford's flat was admittedly impressive—a massive Upper East Side apartment that had been in his Establishment family for decades. "I was like, 'Anytime you'd like to come over would be fine,' " he remembers with a beaming grin. Chapman's place down near Wall Street wasn't bad either. "She had this incredible view of Brooklyn and the East River," he says. Staniford, whose cousin Gifford Miller served for a while as the speaker of the New York City Council, has a cinematically debauched past that included heavy drug use and expulsion from a couple of tony prep schools. What rescued him from this downward spiral was his voluntary enlistment in the Marine Corps in 1991, which led, he says suggestively, to a period of immersion in the shadowy world of intelligence work. He was stationed in Panama; he gathered information about Nicaragua, Colombia, Peru. He can't really talk about it. In fact, when the FBI called him in to talk about Anna Chapman, Staniford supposedly couldn't enlighten the Feds about what his work had been. "One of the first questions they asked me was 'What is your clearance?' And I said, 'Why don't you know what my clearance is?' And they're like, 'All we know is that you have a clearance, but we don't have access to it.'"
Staniford says his relationship with Chapman consisted of frequent sorties to epicurean outposts like Daniel and Juliet. Staniford has stopped drinking now, cold turkey, but during their whirlwind three-month liaison, he and Chapman were a welcome sight to the city's sommeliers. "When I was dating her I was very much into the party scene," he says. "Anya and I used to go out and drink, like, two or three bottles of wine. We'd get fucked up." Conversations sparkled—as long as they stayed away from politics. (One time they veered into that territory and it was a disaster, with Chapman ranting about America's "imperialist" behavior in Afghanistan—and Staniford throwing down a vigorous rebuttal regarding the problematic Soviet track record in that part of the globe.) They sustained the give-and-take by keeping it light, but a few days after the trip to Las Vegas, the relationship began to sputter. It's odd, given all that transpired, but Staniford, who at 40 is looking for a partner with whom he can raise kids someday, claims that he began to feel as though Chapman wasn't wired for emotional intimacy. As he recalls it, "I sent off an e-mail basically saying, 'If we are going to continue, then it needs to be more serious. It can't be just sex—and going out and dinners and stuff.' " The two drifted apart, swapping e-mails now and then, but it was only months later that her name came screeching across Staniford's radar. Naturally he can't forget that morning: There was his ex's face, come-hithering from the front page of the New York Post.
Bill: Is this bullshit?
Anna: most of it yes
The CEO: Bill Staniford says he gathered intelligence as a marine. "I think she was a spy," he says. "However, I'd bet almost every cent I own that she had no formal training."
Matthew Haines was in Romania when he saw news coverage on the spy ring. He called Staniford in New York and asked, "Did you hear what happened?" Staniford said no. Haines told him that the Russian redhead was in jail. Staniford's response was almost a reflex: "Then I have to get her out."
At first Staniford figured the arrest was some sort of mistake. As the news sank in, he felt the rumblings of a meltdown. He was trying to stay away from alcohol at the time, but he popped open a bottle of champagne—and not because he wanted to celebrate. "My head just starts going wild—trying to replay every single conversation I had," he says. "I was just thinking, 'Did I do anything?' I felt my chest clench. I was in a state of panic." Terlecki, the tequila promoter, wound up getting a call too—several, in fact—from the FBI, although his reaction to it was a little less serious. "My dad would call and he's like, 'What's up, spy?' " Terlecki says. "I'm like, 'Don't say that! They're fuckin' listening on the phone right now!'"