Five people, including a Mundelein resident and Volo resident, were charged by federal prosecutors for illegally exporting night-vision goggles and thermal riflescopes to Russia in a multi-year scheme.
Elena Shifrin, 59, of Mundelein, and Vladimir Pridacha, 55, of Volo, were both arrested on June 17 after a federal grand jury charged them with conspiring to unlawfully export defense articles to Russia.
Three other defendants named in the indictment are Boris Polosin, 45, of Russia; Vladimir Gohman, 52, of Israel; and Igor Panchernikov, 39, an Israeli national who, during much of the scheme, resided in Corona, California.
The five defendants allegedly exported thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles without a license in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, prosecutors said.
They purchased dozens of thermal imaging devices, most of which cost between $5,000 and $10,000 and are controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, from sellers across the United States over a four-year span.
The defendants are accused of obtaining many of the items using aliases and falsely assuring the sellers that they would not export the items from the United States.
The thermal imaging devices were then exported to co-conspirators in Russia using aliases and false addresses to conceal their activities, prosecutors said.
The defendants hid the thermal imaging devices among other non-export-controlled items when exporting them to Russia and falsely stated on export declarations that the contents of their exports were non-export-controlled items with values of less than $2,500.
None of the defendants obtained the required export licenses to export defense articles to Russia.
All five are charged with conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act and face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted.
The indictment also accuses all five defendants of conspiring to smuggle thermal imaging devices from the United States and file false export information to conceal their activities, which carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Acting U.S. Attorney Tracy Wilkison of the Central District of California and Assistant Attorney General John Demers of the Justice Department’s National Security Division made the announcement.
The FBI’s Los Angeles and Chicago Field Offices are investigating the case with assistance provided by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations.