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Black-market caviar scheme leads to Hinsdale man's indictment

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 8:19 p.m. CDT

HINSDALE — A Hinsdale man faces federal charges after he allegedly tried to sell caviar on the black market in Chicago.

Fedor Pakhnyuk, 39, faces two felony counts of violating the Lacey Act and is accused of attempting to set up a business to market processed paddlefish caviar in Chicago. He was charged in four separate indictments in the Western District of Missouri for acts that occurred in 2011 and 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice said Thursday.

According to the indictment, during that time, Pakhnyuk traveled from Illinois to Missouri to obtain paddlefish eggs. He allegedly purchased them, then processed the eggs into caviar and attempted to form an enterprise with others who would market the caviar in Chicago.

The American paddlefish is a freshwater fish found primarily in the Mississippi River drainage system, and their eggs are marketed as caviar. Missouri law prohibits the transportation, sale or purchase of the eggs.

The Lacey Act makes it unlawful for any person to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire or purchase fish that were taken, possessed, transported or sold in violation of any law or regulation of any state, or to attempt to do so.

The investigation spanned nine states and included seven other arrests on charges of trafficking in paddlefish and/or conspiring to violate the Lacey Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Also charged were Arkadiy Lvovskiy, 51, of Colorado; Dmitri Elitchev, 46, of Colorado; Artour Magdessian, 46, of Colorado; Felix Baravik, 48, of Colorado; Petr Babenko, 42, of New Jersey; Bogdan Nahapetyan, 33, of Missouri; and Andrew Praskovsky, 40, of Colorado.

If convicted of both felony counts, Pakhnyuk could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $500,000 in fines.

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