Five people, including one who lived in Corona, have been indicted for allegedly trying to export thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles to Russia without a license, federal officials announced Monday.
The defendants are also accused of conspiring to smuggle thermal imaging devices from the U.S. and file false export information to hide their activities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
The indictment was returned by a federal grand jury on May 26 and was unsealed after the suspects were arrested on June 17.
It outlines a nearly four-year scheme during which the defendants bought dozens of imaging devices — most of which cost between $5,000 to $10,000 and were controlled by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations — from sellers across the U.S.
The defendants allegedly got many of the items by using aliases, falsely reassuring the sellers they would not export the items from the U.S.
The defendants allegedly hid the devices among other non-export controlled items when exporting them to Russia and falsely stated on export declarations that the contents were non-export-controlled items with values of less than $2,500, according to the indictment.
Additionally, the defendants did not obtain the required licenses to export defense articles to Russia.
Elena Shifrin, 59, of Mundelein, Illinois, and Vladimir Pridacha, 55, of Volo, Illinois were arrested in Illinois on June 17. They appeared in federal court in Chicago last week and were released on $100,000 bond.
The three others 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.
Conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison, while the second conspiracy charge alleged in the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison officials said.
The FBI’s Los Angeles and Chicago field offices investigated the scheme, along with the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations.