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A New Hampshire man was arrested and charged with helping facilitate a continent-spanning smuggling operation designed to get sensitive technology into the hands of the Russian government, officials said Tuesday.
Alexey Brayman of Merrimack was named in an indictment unsealed this week along with five Russian nationals and another U.S. citizen.
Court documents and reporting from The Boston Globe reveal how Brayman allegedly received and shipped advanced technology that could be used in Russia’s war effort against Ukraine, all while living a seemingly normal suburban life in a quiet New Hampshire neighborhood.
Prosecutors allege that Brayman and his co-conspirators illegally bought and exported highly sensitive and heavily regulated electronic components, according to the Department of Justice. Some of these items can be used to develop nuclear and hypersonic weapons, quantum computers, and other advanced systems with military uses.
The defendants were allegedly working in conjunction with Serniya Engineering and Sertal LLC, two Russian-based companies that take orders from Russian intelligence services to acquire advanced electronics and testing equipment. The two companies operate a network of shell companies and bank accounts all over the world, according to the DOJ, with the goal of hiding the Russian government’s involvement and the true identities of those that will eventually receive these items.
Prosecutors allege that the operation began with Russian end users relaying requests to a man named Alexey Ippolitov, of Moscow. Ippolitov then sent those requests to fellow Russian nationals Yevgeniy Grinin and Svetlana Skvortsova, according to the DOJ. Both Grinin and Skvortsova were employees of Sertal.
They allegedly worked to secure funding and plan shipping routes for the transactions. Next came Boris Livshits, another Russian resident who used to live in Brooklyn, New York. His job was to secure the requested items from U.S. companies. Livshits opened and controlled multiple shell companies in the New York City area for this alleged purpose. Livshits used these entities to route shipments and “layer financial transactions in furtherance of the scheme,” the DOJ said, in coordination with Brayman, Vadim Yermolenko, a U.S. citizen living in New Jersey, and Vadim Konoshchenok, of Estonia.
In the U.S., Brayman and Yermolenko allegedly fabricated shipping documents and invoices to repackage and reship items to intermediate locations around the world, including to Konoshchenok in Estonia. Brayman and Yermolenko also allegedly worked with Livshits to manage dozens of U.S.-based shell companies used in the scheme.
Estonia-based Konoshchenok, a suspected officer of Russia’s Federal Security Service, allegedly shipped or physically smuggled items that came from America into Russia. This included dual-use electronics, military-grade tactical ammunition, and other export-controlled items, the DOJ said.
Konoshchenok was stopped at the Estonian border in late October, officials said, with 35 different types of semiconductors and other electronics ordered by Livshits. He also was found with thousands of U.S.-made 6.5mm bullets, commonly used in sniper rifles. Konoshchenok was stopped once again while trying to cross into Russia in late November. In his possession were about 20 cases of U.S.-origin bullets. Prosecutors allege he fabricated business records, describing the materials as auto parts.
Brayman and Yermolenko were arrested in the U.S., while Konoshchenok was arrested in Estonia. Grinin, Ippolitov, Livshits, and Skvortsova remain at large, according to the DOJ.
While Brayman allegedly played his role in this sprawling scheme, he reportedly led a normal life in New Hampshire, living in a picturesque home at 30 Ellie Drive in Merrimack with his wife Daria.
The Braymans moved to Merrimack in 2019, the Globe reported, and settled on a quiet street. Those that knew them described the couple to reporters as friendly but private.
“This is crazy what’s happening in our little neighborhood,” Amy Goodridge, a neighbor who lives across the street, told the Globe.
“They did get a lot of packages,” she told the paper. “Which I guess makes sense now.”
The couple ran an online craft store, the Globe reported, that specialized in unique night lights. The two personalized lights with things like dolphins, ballerinas, and the Boston Bruins logo to sell on Etsy. Walmart even carried their brand online.
Last month, a Globe reporter observed the Braymans’ home. Packages of all shapes and sizes were piled on the porch among Christmas decorations. An SUV in the driveway displayed a “Baby on Board” sticker.
When speaking with the reporter, Daria Brayman said that they would have to come back, as her husband was not home. She later told the reporter she would need to speak with her lawyer.
When asked about the allegations against her husband, Daria Brayman reportedly said “We do craft festivals and fairs,” and denied knowing about any illegal activities.
Curiously, the Braymans seem to have projected an anti-Russian political stance online. Alexey’s hometown, as listed on Facebook, is Kyiv, the Globe reported. He posted a clip online of Ukrainian performers on “America’s Got Talent,” according to the Globe, and called attention to the longstanding conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
In the spring, soon after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, Daria promoted donations she had made to a charity that provides medical and humanitarian aid to Ukrainians affected by the war, according to the Globe.
Now, prosecutors are looking to hold Brayman on $250,000 bail and make him forfeit his passport, calling him a flight risk.
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