Texan Pleads Guilty to Exporting ITAR-Controlled Weapons Sights to Russia
A Latvian born woman currently living in Texas pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn, New York last Friday to one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act after attempting to export ITAR-controlled weapons sights to Russia without the required export licenses from the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.
Ann Fermanova was arrested in July 2010 at JFK airport while returning to the U.S. from an overseas trip. She had been detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) several months earlier prior to boarding a flight to Moscow after it was determined that her luggage contained three night vision riflescopes worth $15,000, including a Raptor 4X Night Vision Weapons Sight. Riflescopes manufactured to military specifications are covered by USML Category I(f) and riflesights with night vision capabilities are included in USML category XII(c).
The weapons sights were confiscated by CBP, but she was allowed to continue her trip to Russia. When returning to the US several months later Fermanova was apprehended by FBI agents at JFK airport and charged with having "knowingly and intentionally" attempted to export "from the U.S. to Russia defense articles on the United States Munitions list".
Various reports indicated that Fermanova claimed that the weapons sights were either a gift to her father or were intended for sale by her husband in Russia to hunters, although she allegedly removed identifying information from the sights and blacked out the serial numbers.
Fermanova faces a maximum prison term of 10 years and a $1 million fine when she is sentenced in April 2011, although the sentencing guidelines provide for a reduced sentence.