Crime San Francisco Bay Area

Naum Morgovsky and Irina Morgovsky Plead Guilty to Exporting Night Vision Scopes to Russia Without License

A Hillsborough couple will be sentenced in federal court in San Francisco on Sept. 18 for conspiring to export components of night-vision rifle scopes to Russia without a license. Naum Morgovsky, 69, and Irina Morgovsky, 66, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria Tuesday to conspiring to sell scope components without a license from the U.S. State Department between 2012 and 2016, in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

The items included various types of lenses and image intensifier tubes, according to a 2017 grand jury indictment. Naum Morgovsky also pleaded guilty to two other counts of laundering a total of $223,000 in profits from the scheme by setting up bank accounts using the stolen identity of a deceased person. The guilty pleas came during jury selection for a trial that was scheduled to begin today. Each count carries a possible maximum sentence of 20 years. The sentence will be pronounced by Chhabria. The couple owned a night vision company in Moscow.

According to the indictment, a co-conspirator at that company would send the pair lists of components needed. The couple would either send the items directly to the Moscow employee or send them to associates in Europe who would hand-carry the components to Moscow. U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Abraham Simmons said Naum and Irina Morgovsky admitted in their plea agreements that they bought the items through their American company, Hitek International, and did not tell the sellers that the items would be exported.

Acting U.S. Attorney Alex Tse said in a statement, “Protecting sensitive technology from unlawful export is crucial to our national security, especially when that technology has military uses.” Morgovsky also faces unrelated charges in the same indictment of bank fraud conspiracy and bank fraud related to the short sale of two condominiums in Kihei, Hawaii, in 2009.

He is accused of defrauding mortgage lenders by using a stolen identity to buy the units from a codefendant, Mark Migdal, 72, of Portola Valley, for a little more than half of what was owed on the mortgages, and then transferring the properties to Migdal’s wife. Migdal pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit bank fraud in connection with the Hawaii condominiums and making false statements on mortgage modification applications for properties he owned in Mountain View and Portola Valley. Chhabria sentenced him in April to one year and six months in prison.

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