Jury Convicts Florida Company in Scheme to Sell Military Parts to Iran
WASHINGTON (AP) _ A federal jury has convicted a Florida military contractor, three of its subsidiaries and one former executive in a scheme to illegally sell fighter jet parts to Iran in the mid-1980s.
Aero Systems Inc., of Miami, and its three subsidiaries each face a maximum $12 million fine plus possible suspension of export privileges after their conviction Monday, U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens said.
Colin Devellerez, 62, a former Aero Systems vice president, faces a maximum of 115 years in prison and $12 million in fines when all five defendants are sentenced Feb. 19, Stephens said.
A U.S. District Court jury deliberated less than two hours Monday before convicting all five of one count of conspiracy and 11 counts of illegally transferring the fighter jet parts to Iran in violation of an arms export ban.
Robert Holmes, the company’s president, was preparing a statement and was not immediately available for comment today, his office said.
Federal prosecutors alleged the company transferred more than $7 million of navigational parts for the F-4 Phantom fighter jet to Iran between 1984 and 1987 during a crucial phase of the Iran-Iraq war.
Prosecutors alleged the shipments of gyroscopes and accelerometers were critical to Iran’s ability to maintain its flying capability in the war.
Stephens said the sophisticated scheme also involved a Japanese company, Japan Aviation Electronics Industry, which was licensed by the State Department to make the navigational parts for the jets. JAE was prohibited from transferring the technology outside Japan.
Prosecutors alleged Aero Systems bought the parts from JAE for $4 million then turned around and sold them to Iran for approximately $7.3 million.
Both companies were indicted in September 1991. JAE pleaded guilty in March and paid a record $15 million fine. Three of its executives pleaded guilty three months later and are awaiting sentencing.
Devellerez, who lives in California but is an Australian citizen, was accused in the indictment of helping orchestrate the sale to front companies for the Iranian military via Aero System subsidiaries.
Aero Systems and its subsidiaries still face additional charges of illegally selling and exporting Hawk missile system parts to Iran, Stephens said.
The three subsidiaries were identified as Aero Systems Aviation Corp. of Miami, Heirax Company Ltd. in Hong Kong and Aero Systems PTE, Ltd. of Singapore.