Former U.S. Serviceman Pleads Guilty to Exporting Defense Items Such as Night Vision Goggles to Russia in Violation of Federal Law
Friday, March 24, 2023
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California
LOS ANGELES – A former member of the United States military pleaded guilty today to conspiring to unlawfully export to Russia defense articles – including thermal imaging riflescopes and night vision goggles – without a license in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.
Igor Panchernikov, 41, a former Corona resident who once served in the United States Air Force Reserves, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act. He has been in federal custody since July 2022 after being extradited to the United States from Israel.
According to his plea agreement, from December 2016 to May 2018, Panchernikov conspired with other individuals to knowingly export from the United States to Russia defense articles without obtaining from the State Department a valid license or other approval for such exports.
Panchernikov’s accomplices purchased defense articles – including thermal riflescopes, weapons sights, monoculars, and night vision googles – from various online sellers located in the United States and directed the sellers to mail those items to Panchernikov’s residence in Corona.
At his Corona residence, Panchernikov received at least 19 defense articles that his co-conspirators purchased from online sellers. After receiving these items, Panchernikov inspected the items to ensure that they were undamaged and operational. Pursuant to his co-conspirators’ instructions, Panchernikov then mailed two of the items to accomplices in Russia and mailed 17 defense articles to Elena Shifrin, 61, of Mundelein, Illinois, who then mailed these items to Russia.
To conceal his unlawful activities, when Panchernikov exported the two defense articles to Russia, he listed fictitious sender names on the packages containing the items. He also falsely identified the items in the packages as non-export-controlled items, such as clothing. Finally, he concealed the defense articles in other items, including a drill press.
United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled a June 23 sentencing hearing, at which time Panchernikov will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Shifrin pleaded guilty in February 2022 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act. Her sentencing hearing is expected in the coming months.
Vladimir Pridacha, 57, of Volo, Illinois, has pleaded not guilty to criminal charges in this case and has an August 29 trial date scheduled.
Two other defendants charged in this case – Boris Polosin, of Russia, and Vladimir Gohman, of Israel – are fugitives.
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 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 Attorney David T. Ryan, Chief of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Wilson Park of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section are prosecuting this case.
Public Information Officer
Updated March 24, 2023U.S. Department of Justice Press Release
Categories: Arms Export Control Act Department of Justice (DOJ) Updates Enforcement Actions Export Control Pleas and Verdicts
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