Ukrainian Busted on Weapons Charges

BROOKLYN (CN) — A Ukrainian man legally living in Queens was arrested Tuesday and charged with funneling sophisticated, weapons-grade military equipment to his native country for at least the past two years.

Volodymyr Nedoviz, 32, was charged with conspiracy and knowingly and intentionally exporting rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment without a license.

Hs twin brother, identified as R.N. and living in Kiev, and several other unnamed cohorts also were implicated in a 38-page, arrest warrant that was unsealed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Ramon E. Reyes with the Eastern District of New York.

According to the indictment, Nedoviz and others sought to circumvent federal laws by playing fast and loose with the U.S. postal system, packaging and repackaging the artillery that would eventually land in the hands of people fighting the United States overseas.

Under federal law and by an executive order issued by President Barack Obama with an eye toward the impending expiration of the Export Administration Act, the president was granted authority to regulate the flow of guns when an issue of national emergency rises to an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” FBI Agent Joseph Rudnick wrote in the arrest warrant, which included a request to search a Philadelphia building.

Nedoviz and his cronies bought the military-grade equipment from U.S.-based brick-and-mortar manufacturers or through the internet via Amazon.com and eBay, according to the Department of Justice.

The devices included “some of the most highly powerful and technologically sophisticated night vision rifle scopes and thermal imaging equipment available, including, among others, an Armasight Zeus-Pro 640 2 16×50 (60Hz) thermal imaging weapons sight.”

There also was a FLIR Thermosight R-Series, Model RS64 60 mm 60×480 (30Hz) Rifle Scope, and an ATN X-Sight IT 5-20% Smart Rifle scope, the Department of Justice said. Those devices often retail at about $9,000 and are specifically marketed to military and law enforcement personnel.

According to records obtained from Amazon.com, eBay and PayPal, between Nov. 27, 2014, and today, the two men conspired to buy at least 83 scopes and thermal imaging devices for $190,000.

At least 20 of the items can be directly linked to Nedoviz “based on … the name, address, billing information, telephone number or credit card information provided by the purchaser,” the FBI’s Rudnick said.

Another examination of PayPal records showed that Nedoviz’s twin brother bought the artillery from a company identified in papers as “Company A,” then lied about his citizenship and falsely claimed he was living in Ridgewood, New York. He also falsified the country where Company A does business, but the document does not say where that is.

To avoid scrutiny, the men shipped the items to post office boxes in the United States, repackaged them through a so-called “international package delivery company,” more commonly known as a “freight provider,” and shipped them off to the Ukraine.

“The defendant tried to circumvent laws that protect our national security by preventing specialized technologies from falling into the wrong hands,” U.S. Attorney Robert Capers said. “We will continue to vigorously prosecute violations of our laws that help maintain the superiority of our armed forces on land, sea and air.”

Homeland Security Agent in Charge of Special Investigations Angel Melendez added: “Those items … have strict export controls in order to make sure that our soldiers overseas never have to encounter them on the battlefield.”

Nedoviz came to the United States from the Ukraine in 2014 but went back home in 2016. He came back to Brooklyn in February this year. The FBI, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Homeland Security are still investigating.