Chicago, Illinois - A suburban Chicago businessman has been indicted on federal criminal charges for allegedly illegally exporting gun parts and other defense articles from the United States to a company in Ukraine.
Glenn Stepul owned a Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based business that distributed horizontal directional drilling equipment. From 2014 to 2016, Stepul conspired with a Ukranian resident – Andriy Yakin – and an unindicted co-conspirator in Ukraine to violate the Arms Export Control Act by exporting or attempting to export pistol slides and stainless steel gun barrels from the United States to Ukraine, without obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of State, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Stepul, Yakin, and the unindicted co-conspirator also conspired to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act by exporting or attempting to export rifle scopes and night-vision cameras from the United States to Ukraine, without obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the indictment states.
The charges allege that Stepul commingled and concealed some of the export-controlled items inside shipments of drilling equipment sent to Ukraine. One such shipment was intercepted by customs officials in Lviv, Ukraine, in September 2014, the indictment states. Stepul had completed a customs declaration falsely describing the items inside the parcel as “household goods,” “cosmetics,” “toys,” “stationary,” and “cassettes,” the indictment states.
The indictment charges Stepul, 33, of Miami Beach, Fla., and formerly of Wheeling, Ill., and Yakin, 38, of Poltava, Ukraine, with conspiracy to violate the AECA and IEEPA and knowingly impede and obstruct the functions of the Commerce and State Departments. Stepul also faces additional export-control, smuggling, and false statement charges. Stepul pleaded not guilty to all charges during his arraignment Thursday before U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey in Chicago. Judge Blakey scheduled a status hearing for Dec. 16, 2020, at 1:00 p.m.
Yakin is believed to be residing in Ukraine, and a warrant for his arrest has been issued.
The indictment was announced by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; James M. Gibbons, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations; Dan Clutch, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security-Office of Export Enforcement, Chicago Field Office; and Cynthia Bruce, Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Southeast Field Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Grayson S. Walker.
The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose reasonable sentences under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.