11 indicted in Russian arms ring suspected of stealing U.S. technology
By The Los Angeles Times
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 9:46 p.m.
HOUSTON — Eleven alleged members of a clandestine procurement network were indicted in connection with what prosecutors say was a $50 million conspiracy designed “to steal American technologies for the Russian government.” The grand jury indictment was unsealed on Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, N.Y., but many of the defendants were arrested in Texas. One, Alexander Posobilov, appeared before a U.S. magistrate in Houston as prosecutors began seeking defendants' transfer to Brooklyn for trial.
Federal prosecutors identified the ringleader as Alexander Fishenko, 46, owner of U.S. and Russian companies who immigrated to this country in 1994 and became a U.S. citizen nine years later. As an unregistered agent acting “on behalf of the Russian government,” he allegedly oversaw shipments to Russia of radar and surveillance systems, weapons guidance systems and detonation triggers.
“These microelectronics had applications in a wide range of military systems, including radar and surveillance systems, weapons targeting systems and detonation triggers,” the indictment says. Prosecutors say the equipment wound up with Russia's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Security Service.
Much of the equipment is unavailable in Russia, and it is illegal to ship it out of this country. The crime can draw more than 20 years in prison.
“The defendants spun an elaborate web of lies to evade the laws that protect our national security,” said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch in Brooklyn. “The defendants tried to take advantage of America's free markets to steal American technologies for the Russian government.” The indictment said Fishenko ran Arc Electronics Inc. in Houston, which sent the equipment to Russia. There was “a striking similarity” between Arc's gross revenues and Russia's defense spending over the last several years, prosecutors said.
Arc often gave false information to obtain the equipment from U.S. manufacturers and suppliers, the indictment said, and claimed that it “merely manufactured benign products such as traffic lights.” In other instances, the defendants allegedly labeled some equipment as material for “fishing boats” rather than “anti-submarine” devices.
Prosecutors told Houston Magistrate George C. Hanks that three defendants — Fishenko, Posobilov and Viktoria Klebanova — should be held without bond. They said they had recovered hundreds of Fishenko emails that “constitute devastating evidence.”
Prosecutors said Posobilov, 58, entered the United States in 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008. He was arrested on Tuesday as he was about to fly to Russia.
He was the first to appear in federal court, where he sat handcuffed, chained at the waist and ankles. Looking sleepy, Posobilov occasionally closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair as he listened to the proceedings on headphones connected to a nearby Russian translator.
The judge set Posobilov's detention hearing for Friday morning in Houston.
Prosecutors said Klebanova, 37, travels extensively to Russia, despite her naturalized U.S. citizenship. She allegedly exchanged emails with Fishenko and Posobilov about how to evade U.S. export laws.
More defendants are to appear in court on Thursday.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Health care law enrollee passwords at risk for Heartbleed Internet security flaw, feds warn
- ‘Patriots’ back Nevada rancher; Reid labels them ‘domestic terrorists’
- Del Taco customers mistakenly charged thousands for fast-food meals
- SpaceX supply ship makes Easter cargo delivery to space station
- Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
- Fox fires exec who used email to plan aid
- First date in New Jersey ends with him pilfering her TV and Yorkshire terrier
- Records exonerate ‘X-Men’ director, attorney says
- IRS, other agencies award contracts to license plate tracking company
- Mauling puts bears back on firing line in Central Florida
- Washington’s snowy owl recovers from apparent bus crash, returns to wild