Feds Say Alleged Smuggler Hid Night Vision Scopes In Her Uggs

The Russian expatriate--and new tabloid star--facing a federal charge for allegedly trying to smuggle night vision scopes to Moscow hid them inside a pair of Ugg boots in a bid to deliver the state-of-the-art devices to her husband, who was previously deported from the U.S. following fraud and identity theft convictions.

During a July 15 detention hearing in U.S. District Court in Dallas, a federal agent testified that investigators did not expect Anna Fermanova to return to the United States after she was allowed to leave the country following the seizure of the scopes in March at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Fermanova, 24, was arrested this month after returning to her parents's Plano home after spending four months overseas. She has been charged with illegally trying to export three scopes, worth a total of about $15,000, without approval from the Department of State. The items are considered "defense articles on the United States Munitions list," according to a U.S. District Court filing.

During the detention hearing, an audio tape of which was obtained by TSG, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent David Mondanaro testified that Fermanova was carrying eye pieces for the scopes in a carry-on bag, while the scopes themselves were tucked inside Ugg boots in her checked luggage.

Mondanaro also disclosed that investigators had examined Fermanova's bank records and determined that her husband "routinely" wires money into her account in sums just under $10,000 (the inference being, of course, that this was done to avoid the bank's filing of currency transaction reports, which are required when a deposit or withdrawal exceeds $10,000). While unsuccessfully pushing for Fermanova's pretrial detention, prosecutor Aisha Saleem argued that these transfers could be evidence of "illegal activity."

Mondanaro noted that Fermanova told investigators that her husband, Aleksandr Novikov, imported cars to Russia, but following tariff changes, switched to currency trading. According to other testimony, Novikov was arrested in New York for fraud and identity theft and subsequently deported to Russia. Fermanova's lawyer has said that his client's husband was simply planning to resell the scopes to contacts who planned to use them for big-game hunting.