The ex-CEO and owner of a now-defunct Houston microelectronics company could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison after pleading guilty yesterday to being an unregistered Russian agent, accused of illegally exporting high-tech product worth millions to his home country over a 10-year period, the Wall Street Journal reports. Alexander Fishenko, 49, a native of the former Soviet Union who was naturalized in the US in 2003, was hit with 19 charges, including money laundering, circumventing export laws, and what the Journal says is the little-used charge of acting as an unregistered agent of the Russian government via his Arc Electronics firm. "Fishenko lined his pockets at the expense of our national security," the acting US attorney for the Eastern District of New York said, per CNN. Fishenko, arrested in 2012, is one of 11 charged in the case, per the AP.
The technologies Fishenko sent overseas—including microprocessors and analog-to-digital converters—are subject to strict export regulations because they have the potential to be used in surveillance, radar, and missile guidance systems, CNN notes. The scheme, which the Journal says kicked into full gear in 2008, flouted export laws by designating Arc as a traffic-light manufacturer (even though it produced no goods, instead obtaining them through US suppliers), using convoluted shipping routes, and accepting payments through shell companies. Arc allegedly sent more than $50 million in product to Russia from 2002 to 2012 without an export license, prosecutors say. Fishenko, who will hear his fate in January, is likely to receive a sentence of between 12-1/2 and 16 years rather than the century-plus maximum, per the Journal. (The FBI arrested a Russian spy this year posing as a Manhattan banker.)