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Texas man gets 11 years for role in Russian export scheme

By Brendan Pierson

(Reuters) - A former employee of a Houston electronics exporting company was sentenced on Tuesday to 11 years and three months in prison for his role in a scheme to illegally export about $50 million of microelectronics to Russia.

Alexander Posobilov, 62, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson in Brooklyn, federal prosecutors announced.

Posobilov filed a notice in court on Tuesday that he was appealing his conviction and sentence. His attorney could not be reached for comment.

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Posobilov was convicted in October 2015 of exporting and conspiring to export more microchips and other high-tech goods to Russia, including many destined for the military and intelligence agencies. He was also convicted of money laundering.

Posobilov, who came to the United States from Russia in 2001 and became a U.S. citizen in 2008, worked as procurement director for Arc Electronics Inc, according to court filings.

Prosecutors say he acted a right-hand man to Arc founder Alexander Fishenko, who led the conspiracy. Fishenko was sentenced to 10 years in prison last June after pleading guilty to operating as an unauthorized agent of the Russian government and violating export laws.

Prosecutors said Fishenko, Posobilov and others schemed to sell cutting-edge microelectronics frequently used in military systems to the Russian military and others through intermediary Russian companies.

Fishenko and Posobilov hired and trained a cadre of Russian-speaking sales people to lie to vendors about why Arc was seeking these technologies and to falsify export records, prosecutors said.

Seven of Arc's top 10 clients were specially authorized by the Russian Ministry of Defense to procure parts for its military, prosecutors said.

Arc's customers in Russia included a technical research unit for the Russian FSB internal security agency and Russian entities that built air and missile defense systems and that produced electronic warfare systems, prosecutors said.

Fishenko and Posobilov were among 11 people arrested in 2012 in connection with the alleged scheme.

Two other Arc employees were tried and convicted alongside Posobilov. In addition to Fishenko, four other defendants have pleaded guilty. Three remain at large, according to prosecutors.

Fishenko's lawyers said in court documents that although Fishenko was pleading guilty to acting as an agent for the Russian government under U.S. law, he was not a "spy."

They said he intended Arc to be a lawful exporting company, but wrongly took a "laissez-faire" attitude to licensing requirements.

(Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Bill Trott)