Plymouth man faces smuggling charge

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING
  • Star Tribune
  • February 12, 2013 - 8:39 PM

A Plymouth man was charged Monday in a Minneapolis federal court with smuggling thousands of rounds of restricted ammunition to Ukraine.

Paul Kalash, 40, paid $15,563 to an online firearms dealer for ammo and other firearms components that he tried to ship last year to individuals in Ukraine, according to a federal search warrant.

Kalash, a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Ukraine in 1997, said in an interview last year that he bought the ammo for a friend who's a competitive shooter.

"He has a lot of friends, yes -- champion of Ukraine and champion of Russia -- he works with that kind of people," Kalash said.

Federal investigators said the ammo Kalash bought appears to be inconsistent with competitive shooting, however.

"The manufacturer describes the ammunition as having maximum energy transfer, explosive expansion and devastating terminal performance," Jon Smithberg, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, wrote in an affidavit about the investigation. "In addition, some of the ammunition would support most assault rifle platforms, such as an AR-15, M-4 or possibly the AK-47."

Kalash should have known the ammo was restricted because a receipt for it warned that it could not be exported without a license, Smithberg said.

He said Kalash used a pseudonym and a fake address on some shipments even after he'd been put on notice about the export restrictions. Kalash said he did so because the shipments weren't getting through and he thought his own name had been flagged.

Kalash, formerly known as Pavel Prokopenko, founded Promode Construction in Minneapolis.

He was charged by federal prosecutors rather than in an indictment, a method that generally precedes a plea bargain. A person convicted of smuggling can be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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