In a case that highlights the severity of violating federal law, a former U.S. serviceman has pleaded guilty to illegally exporting defense items, such as night vision goggles, to Russia. Igor Panchernikov, a former member of the United States Air Force Reserves, conspired with others to knowingly export these items without obtaining the necessary license or approval from the State Department. Panchernikov’s accomplices purchased the defense articles from online sellers in the U.S. and had them mailed to his residence in Corona, California. Panchernikov then mailed some of these items to accomplices in Russia and others to Elena Shifrin, who then sent them to Russia. To conceal his unlawful activities, Panchernikov listed fictitious sender names on the packages and falsely identified the items as non-export-controlled items. Facing a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, Panchernikov is set to be sentenced on June 23.
Guilty Plea and Charges
Former U.S. Serviceman Pleads Guilty to Exporting Defense Items
Charges against Igor Panchernikov
Igor Panchernikov, a former member of the United States military, has recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to unlawfully export defense articles to Russia without a license. These defense articles include thermal imaging riflescopes and night vision goggles, which are restricted under the Arms Export Control Act. Panchernikov, who once served in the United States Air Force Reserves, has been in federal custody since July 2022 after being extradited from Israel.
According to his plea agreement, Panchernikov conspired with others from December 2016 to May 2018 to knowingly export defense articles to Russia without obtaining the necessary license or approval from the State Department. His accomplices purchased these items from various online sellers in the United States and directed them to be mailed to Panchernikov’s residence in Corona, California. Panchernikov received at least 19 defense articles at his residence and inspected them to ensure their functionality.
To further conceal his activities, Panchernikov mailed two of the defense articles to accomplices in Russia, listing fictitious sender names and falsely identifying the items as non-export-controlled items, such as clothing. He also concealed the defense articles in other items, including a drill press. These actions were taken to evade detection and deceive authorities regarding the true nature of the exported items.
Panchernikov’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 23, where he faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Notably, one of his co-conspirators, Elena Shifrin, has already pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and awaits her own sentencing hearing. Another defendant in the case, Vladimir Pridacha, has pleaded not guilty and is set to go to trial on August 29. Two additional defendants, Boris Polosin and Vladimir Gohman, are currently fugitives.
The Arms Export Control Act
Export of Defense Items to Russia
The Arms Export Control Act is a federal law enacted to regulate the export of defense articles and services from the United States. Its purpose is to prevent the unauthorized transfer of sensitive military technology and equipment to foreign countries or individuals. The Act requires exporters to obtain licenses or other approvals from the State Department before exporting controlled defense items.
In this case, Igor Panchernikov violated the Arms Export Control Act by unlawfully exporting defense items such as night vision goggles and thermal imaging riflescopes to Russia. These items are considered crucial military equipment and are subject to strict restrictions on export to protect national security interests. The illegal export of such defense articles undermines the government’s efforts to safeguard sensitive technology and maintain control over its distribution.
Details of the Case
Dates of Conspiracy
Conspiring with Others
Purchase of Defense Articles
Receipt of Defense Articles
Exporting Defense Articles to Russia
Concealment of Activities
The conspiracy in which Igor Panchernikov was involved took place from December 2016 to May 2018. During this time, Panchernikov conspired with other individuals to export defense articles to Russia without the necessary authorization. The cooperation and collaboration among conspirators highlight the organized nature of the operation and the deliberate intent to violate export laws.
Panchernikov’s co-conspirators purchased defense articles, including thermal riflescopes, weapons sights, monoculars, and night vision goggles, from various online sellers in the United States. These items were then directed to be shipped to Panchernikov’s residence in Corona, California. Panchernikov received at least 19 defense articles as a result of these purchases.
In order to further their illegal activities, Panchernikov and his co-conspirators exported the defense articles to Russia. Panchernikov mailed two of the items to accomplices in Russia, while his co-conspirator Elena Shifrin, based in Mundelein, Illinois, mailed the remaining 17 defense articles to Russia. These actions demonstrate a clear intent to transfer sensitive military technology to a foreign country without the appropriate authorization.
To evade detection and deceive authorities, Panchernikov took several steps to conceal his illicit activities. When exporting the defense articles to Russia, he listed fictitious sender names on the packages and falsely identified the items as non-export-controlled items, such as clothing. Additionally, Panchernikov hid the defense articles within other items, including a drill press, in an attempt to further obscure their true nature.
Potential Maximum Sentence
Other Defendants in the Case
Igor Panchernikov’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 23. At this hearing, the court will consider various factors, including the severity of the offense, Panchernikov’s level of cooperation, any prior criminal history, and the potential impact on national security. If found guilty, Panchernikov faces a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Panchernikov’s co-conspirator, Elena Shifrin, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in February 2022. She is currently awaiting her own sentencing hearing in the coming months. Another defendant in the case, Vladimir Pridacha, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial on August 29. However, two additional defendants, Boris Polosin and Vladimir Gohman, remain fugitives and are yet to face legal proceedings.
The involvement of multiple defendants underscores the complexity of the case and the extent of the criminal operation. Law enforcement authorities have worked diligently to apprehend and prosecute those responsible for violating the Arms Export Control Act, ensuring accountability for their actions.
Involvement of FBI
Assistance from Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations
The investigation into Igor Panchernikov’s illegal activities was spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI’s Los Angeles and Chicago field offices played a crucial role in uncovering the conspiracy and gathering evidence against Panchernikov and his co-conspirators.
In addition to the FBI’s involvement, the United States Postal Inspection Service and Homeland Security Investigations provided significant assistance in the investigation. Their expertise in tracking and intercepting illegal shipments, as well as their collaboration with the FBI, contributed to the successful detection of the illicit export operation.
The cooperation between these law enforcement agencies exemplifies the comprehensive approach taken to ensure the integrity of national security and safeguarding sensitive defense technology. By combining their resources and expertise, they were able to dismantle the criminal network involved in this case and bring the responsible individuals to justice.
Assistant United States Attorneys Involved in the Case
The prosecution of Igor Panchernikov and his co-conspirators is being undertaken by Assistant United States Attorneys from the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section. Specifically, Assistant United States Attorney David T. Ryan, Chief of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section, and Assistant United States Attorney Wilson Park are leading the prosecution.
These experienced prosecutors are responsible for presenting the evidence against the defendants, arguing the government’s case, and seeking appropriate penalties for the crimes committed. Their expertise in national security matters and their dedication to upholding the law contribute to the successful prosecution of individuals who engage in illegal export activities.
The collective efforts of law enforcement and prosecution authorities are essential in combating the unauthorized transfer of defense articles and preserving the integrity of export control regulations.
Public Information Officer’s Contact Details
For additional information or inquiries regarding the case against Igor Panchernikov, the Public Information Officer can be contacted using the following details:
Name: Ciaran McEvoy Title: Public Information Officer Email: email@example.com Phone: (213) 894-4465
Members of the media, as well as the general public, can reach out to the Public Information Officer for press inquiries or for further information related to the case. The Public Information Officer serves as a point of contact and can provide updates on the legal proceedings and any relevant news surrounding the case.
Related Press Releases
Sentencing of Former U.S. Serviceman in Similar Case
Arrest of Inland Empire Man for Theft of Sensitive Software
Sentencing of Engineer for Illegal Export to China
For additional related content and further insight into similar cases, the following press releases are recommended:
- “Former U.S. Serviceman Sentenced to 27 Months in Prison for Illegally Exporting Night Vision Goggles, Other Military Items to Russia”
- “Inland Empire Man Arrested for Allegedly Stealing Sensitive Software from His U.S. Employers to Build a Competing Business in China”
- “Engineer Sentenced to Over 5 Years in Prison for Conspiring to Illegally Export to China Semiconductor Chips with Military Uses”
These press releases provide additional examples of individuals who have engaged in illegal export activities, highlighting the consequences and sentences associated with such violations. They offer valuable context and a broader understanding of the efforts made by law enforcement to combat unauthorized transfers of sensitive military technology.
Address and Contact Details of Central District of California
For further information on the Central District of California and its operations, including additional contact details, the following information is provided:
Address: 312 North Spring Street, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, California 90012 Phone: 213-894-2400 Fax: 213-894-0141
The Central District of California serves as the jurisdiction in which the legal proceedings against Igor Panchernikov and his co-conspirators are taking place. It encompasses several counties within California and handles federal criminal cases, including those related to export control violations.
Social Media and Archival Information
Stay connected and up-to-date with the latest news, press releases, and information related to the Central District of California and its activities by following their social media accounts and accessing their archival information. These channels provide a valuable resource for accessing official updates and announcements regarding ongoing cases and legal proceedings.
Twitter: @CDCALosAngeles Facebook: Central District of California YouTube: Central District of California
In addition to social media, the Central District of California maintains an archive of its past press releases, allowing interested individuals to access historical information and stay informed about significant cases and developments. The archive provides a comprehensive record of the district’s work and highlights its commitment to transparency and public engagement.