Volo, Mundelein Men Arrested for Violating Arms Control Act

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Central California:

Five Charged in Scheme to Export to Russia Thermal Imaging Scopes and Night Vision Goggles in Violation of Arms Export Control Act

LOS ANGELES – Federal authorities have arrested two Illinois residents named in an indictment that accuses five defendants of conspiring to unlawfully export to Russia defense articles – specifically, thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles – without a license in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

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.

The indictment, which was returned by a federal grand jury on May 26 and unsealed following the arrests on June 17, outlines a nearly four-year scheme in which the defendants 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.

The defendants allegedly obtained many of the items using aliases, 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, according to the indictment.

The defendants hid the thermal imaging devices among other non-export-controlled items when exporting them to Russia, and they falsely stated on export declarations that the contents of their exports were non-export-controlled items with values of less than $2,500, the indictment alleges. In no case did any of the defendants obtain the required export licenses to export defense articles to Russia.

The two defendants arrested on June 17 in Illinois are Elena Shifrin, 59, of Mundelein, Illinois, and Vladimir Pridacha, 55, of Volo, Illinois. These two defendants made their initial court appearances last week in the United States District Court in Chicago and were released on $100,000 bond.

The other three defendants named in the indictment are: Boris Polosin, of Russia; Vladimir Gohman, of Israel, and Igor Panchernikov, an Israeli citizen who, during much of the scheme, resided in Corona, California.

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The charge of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act carries a statutory maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison. The second conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in prison.


The FBI’s Los Angeles and Chicago field offices investigated this matter, with substantial assistance from the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations.

Assistant United States Attorneys David T. Ryan and Wilson Park of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section and Justice Department Trial Attorney Matthew Chang of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting this case.


Volo, Mundelein Men Arrested for Violating Arms Control Act — 8 Comments

  1. This isn’t as big of a deal as it sounds like.

    We aren’t talking about classified technology here; anyone in the US who has the money can legally buy night vision googles or thermal imaging riflescopes.

    These people ran afoul of the infamous ITAR regulations which restrict the international export of certain items and technologies that could have military applications.

    Sending the wrong kind of knife overseas without a permit could land you in hot water under ITAR.

    The government has used ITAR to try to stop people from putting plans for 3d printed guns on the internet.

    In the 1990s, the government used ITAR to try to go after some computer scientists who posted the now-famous PGP encryption program on the internet.

  2. These charges are really kind of ironic, because a lot of the night vision equipment that is sold in the US is imported from Russia.

  3. Instead of Juneteenth, January 6th will be a national holiday in the future.

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