You may think of “I’m Going to Disney World!” as an iconic slogan from a Superbowl ad, but in many cases they are instead the famous last words of foreign export defendants. Consider Sergei Baltutski, a Belarusian, who said this last April before taking his family on a trip to Disney World. Problem is, Mr. Baltutski had been having fellow Belarusians in the United States ship to him in Belarus military night vision purchased from eBay, and he got nabbed at the airport on his way to see Mickey and friends. Worst. Vacation. Ever.
Baltutski pleaded guilty, and his sentencing hearing took place recently in Philadelphia. According to his lawyer, the items, approximately $700,000 worth of night vision, were simply used by Belarusian hunters to bag wild boar which, apparently, mostly run at night. Who knew there were that many wild boar, and that many hunters, in Belarus? The sentencing hearing has been deferred a few weeks to permit Baltutski’s lawyers to prepare their boar argument to counter the prosecution’s request for higher sentences based on the potential harm to national security posed by Baltutski’s exports.
One interesting detail, provided in this news report, is that Baltutski’s accomplices sent some of the night vision to him through the Belarusian diplomatic pouch. Say what? The Belarusians are permitting illegal exports of defense articles via their diplomatic pouch? It seems to me that if the government is serious about the threat of these exports, somebody needs to have a long talk with the folks at the Belarusian Embassy. The Vienna Convention probably prohibits prosecuting anyone in the Embassy, but it doesn’t prevent putting the folks involved on a plane back to Belarus
Baltutski’s case is missing from Pacer, but here’s the indictment of his co-conspirators.