Just weeks after breaking up a Russian spy ring that included a 28-year-old woman, federal authorities have charged a Dallas-area woman of a similar age with trying to smuggle three night-vision rifle sights to Russia.
The devices were seized as Fermanova was boarding a plane for Moscow at JFK International Airport, according to the document. She was allowed to complete the trip but was arrested after her return on a charge of attempting to export U.S. munitions. She was arrested at her parents' Plano home on July 15. She was released to home detention after posting $50,000 bond.
The case, first disclosed on the website thesmokinggun.com, offers a mix of glamor and international intrigue similar to that of Anna Chapman, who pleaded guilty July 8 to being a Russian spy. Like Chapman, Fermanova has a Facebook page that includes provocative photos of herself. Chapman lived in New York, where she appeared to work in real estate.
But Fermanova's attorney, Scott Palmer, said Fermanova's case does not involve spying. He said Fermanova bought the rifle sights online for a friend of her husband, who lives in Moscow, and that they were to be used for hunting.
"There's no terrorism, no spying, nothing that remotely touches these recent concerns," he said. "She's one woman who bought something on the Internet, put it in her luggage and this apparently violates federal law."
Palmer said Fermanova is a U.S. citizen who was born in Latvia and raised in the Dallas area. She splits her time between Dallas and Russia, where her husband has a job in the country's financial industry, he said.
The federal affidavit states that Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel are investigating Fermanova and others for attempting to export U.S. military commodities to Russia without the proper licenses.
The affidavit details how agents found the scopes in Fermanova's luggage on March 1. Some identification markings on the devices were covered with black marker pen, according to the document.
Fermanova told the agents she covered the markings "so they would be less noticeable" when she tried to take them overseas without a license, the affidavit states.
Palmer said Fermanova has been studying to become a cosmetologist. She has a Texas cosmetologist's license that expires next year, according to the state's Department of Licensing and Regulation.