Federal indictment alleges Lake County residents illegally sent riflescopes to Russia

 
 
Updated 6/21/2021 5:04 PM

A pair of Lake County residents are charged with conspiring to unlawfully export thermal imaging riflescopes and night-vision goggles to Russia without a license, federal prosecutors announced Monday.

Elena Shifrin, 59, of Mundelein, and Vladimir Pridacha, 55, of Volo, are among five people named in an indictment handed up by a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Shifrin and Pridacha were arrested June 17, authorities said.

 

Also charged in what prosecutors labeled "a nearly four-year scheme" are Boris Polosin, 45, of Russia; Vladimir Gohman, 52, of Israel; and Igor Panchernikov, 39, an Israeli national who, during much of the scheme, lived in Corona, California.

According to court documents, the defendants purchased dozens of thermal-imaging devices, most of which cost $5,000 to $10,000, from sellers across the U.S. They bought the items using aliases, while falsely assuring the sellers that they would not export the items, prosecutors allege.

The thermal-imaging devices were then exported to co-conspirators in Russia using aliases and false addresses to conceal their activities, the charges allege.

In no case did any of the defendants obtain the required export licenses to export defense articles to Russia, prosecutors say.

All five defendants face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. The indictment also accuses them of conspiring to smuggle thermal imaging devices from the U.S. and file false export information to conceal their activities, which carries a sentence of five years in prison if they are found guilty.

The FBI's Los Angeles and Chicago field offices investigated the case, with assistance from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations.

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