AP: Two foreign-born men were charged in a federal complaint unsealed Monday with illegally providing U.S.-made parts to Iranian buyers for military aircraft, including fighter jets and attack helicopters.
The Associated Press
By CURT ANDERSON
MIAMI (AP) — Two foreign-born men were charged in a federal complaint unsealed Monday with illegally providing U.S.-made parts to Iranian buyers for military aircraft, including fighter jets and attack helicopters.
Hassan Saied Keshari, 48, of Novato, Calif., and Traian Bujduveanu, 53, of Plantation, Fla., face between five and 20 years in prison if convicted of violating arms export laws and circumventing the U.S. embargo against Iran.
Prosecutors said Keshari, an Iranian who became a naturalized U.S. citizen, acted as the middleman between aircraft parts buyers in Iran and Bujduveanu, one of his suppliers. A Romanian by birth, Bujduveanu is also a naturalized U.S. citizen, they said.
"In essence, they are charged with helping Iran build up its military," said U.S. Attorney R. Alexander Acosta of Miami.
Neither had the proper U.S. license to export parts for aircraft such as the F-14 Tomcat fighter, the F-4 Phantom fighter, the C-130 cargo plane, the CH-53 helicopter and the AH-1 attack helicopter, prosecutors alleged.
When Bujduveanu was arrested Saturday at his home, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigators found hundreds of parts for the C-130 and other aircraft, prosecutors said. Keshari was arrested Friday at Miami International Airport after arriving on a flight from Atlanta.
The two men were being held without bail after a brief court hearing Monday. Lawyers for the two declined comment. A hearing is scheduled Thursday on whether they should remain in custody until trial.
According to an ICE affidavit, Iran has a web of parts brokers and suppliers who scour the globe for the parts necessary to keep its military gear working. Most of these items are fairly mundane in nature — an F-14 harness assembly, a wrenching bolt, a vertical gyro — but are specific and vital to each airplane.
Keshari's business, Kesh Air International, found suppliers for Iranian clients and used U.S.-based e-mail accounts to make the transactions. According to the affidavit, the e-mails provided much of the evidence in the case, including 857 recent e-mails between Kesh Air and Bujduveanu's business, Orion Aviation Co.
Once the deals were made, the ICE affidavit said the parts were shipped from Broward County, Fla., to the United Arab Emirates and then on to Iran.
There have been at least 17 major federal prosecutions in recent months around the country involving illegal exports to Iran. Those have involved such prohibited items as night vision goggles, computer software for oil and gas operations, Uzi submachine guns, rifle scopes and weapons, and several cases involving parts for the F-14 and other aircraft.