Anna Chapman Who?

Expat, 24, busted for Moscow munitions smuggling bid

Anna Fermanova

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Anna Fermanova Affidavit

Anna Fermanova Photos

JULY 27--A fashionable young Russian expatriate is facing a federal felony charge for allegedly trying to smuggle state-of-the-art night vision scopes to Moscow. The weapons sights cannot be exported without approval from the Department of State since the items are considered munitions covered by the Arms Export Control Act.

Anna Fermanova, 24, was arrested earlier this month when she returned to the United States after spending four months overseas. She was charged with “knowingly and intentionally” attempting to export “from the United States to Russia defense articles on the United States Munitions list.”

Arguing that there was a “serious risk” that Fermanova would flee the country, federal prosecutors in Dallas asked a magistrate judge to jail her without bail. That request was denied by Judge Renee Harris Toliver, who released Fermanova on $50,000 bond, but seized her passport and placed her on 24-hour-a-day home incarceration.

In a brief interview, Fermanova told TSG that the criminal charges were “false allegations” and “too sensitive to be discussed.” Fermanova, who splits her time between Russia and Texas, where she lives with her parents, apparently works in Moscow giving English lessons. According to her Facebook page, she is a 2005 graduate of the Ogle School of Hair Skin and Nails, and Texas state records show that she holds a cosmetologist license expiring next August.

[The arrest warrant for Fermanova was signed one day after Anna Chapman and nine other Russian spies pleaded guilty to federal charges and were deported. As seen here, like the 28-year-old Chapman, Fermanova’s Facebook page is stocked with photos likely to make her a tabloid favorite.]

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) probe of Fermanova began in late-February, when a confidential source reported that she was seeking to acquire a $7000 “Raptor 4X Night Vision Weapons Sight.” The source added that Fermanova “had previously acquired a similar night vision scope.” A typical web site selling the Raptor device notes that its sale was “restricted law enforcement and military only,” adding, “Warning: Requires State Department License for export.” In a sworn affidavit, ICE Agent David Mondanaro noted that the Raptor 4X (pictured above) was an advanced “generation 3” sighting device “designed to be affixed to a rifle, such as the M4 assault rifle.”

A subsequent check of flight manifests revealed that Fermanova was booked on a March 1 flight to Moscow from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. After she checked two pieces of luggage, federal agents performed a contraband search and turned up the Raptor sight and two other state-of-the-art night vision devices, each of which sells for about $4000.

When investigators confronted Fermanova, she told them that she purchased the scopes online and that they were “ generation 3 night vision” devices. Asked if she was aware of regulations covering the export of such munitions, Fermanova said that she “signed something about that,” but was “not really sure what she was signing.”

However, there was evidence that Fermanova understood that transporting the scopes to Russia was not permitted. “There were no visible identification stickers or markings on any of the night vision devices” and some ID numbers “had been covered with black marker pen,” Mondanaro reported.

Fermanova admitted removing or concealing the markings “so they would be less noticeable.” Asked by ICE agents if this was done so she could get them out of the country without State Department permission, Fermanova replied, “Yes,” according to Mondanaro. She claimed that she was taking the $15,000 worth of night vision scopes to her husband, who lives in Moscow.

Agents seized the devices, but allowed Fermanova to board her flight. After returning to the U.S. earlier this month, Fermanova was arrested July 15 on a warrant issued by a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. She is expected to soon travel from her home in Plano, a Dallas suburb, to New York to be arraigned on the felony rap, which carries a maximum ten year prison term.

Fermanova’s lawyer, Scott Palmer, called the case against his client “really silly,” adding that Fermanova’s husband planned to resell the night vision scopes, perhaps to big-game hunters. Palmer declined to discuss where Fermanova came up with the $15,000 to purchase the three devices.

Palmer said that Fermanova emigrated with her parents from Latvia when she was a young girl, and is now a U.S. citizen. According to an information sheet prepared by Agent Mondanaro, the 5’ 6” defendant turned 24 on July 4. Additionally, while she has no tattoos, Fermanova does have a belly piercing, Mondanaro reported. (7 pages)

Comments (2)

I agree-that's one hot spy!
DEFINITELY a very tasty spy!