TRENTON, N.J. – The owner of two New Jersey defense contracting businesses was arraigned Monday for allegedly transmitting military blueprints to India without a license. The charges are the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).
Hannah Robert, 48, of North Brunswick, was indicted by a federal grand jury Oct. 10 on one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act and one count of conspiracy to violate the act. She remains under home detention pending trial.
According to court documents, Robert was the founder, owner and president of One Source USA LLC, a company located at her then-residence in Mount Laurel, contracted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to supply defense hardware items and spare parts pursuant to government contracts. In September 2012, Robert opened a second defense contracting company, Caldwell Components Inc., based at the same address in Mount Laurel.
Along with "R.P," a resident of India, Robert owned and operated a company in India called One Source (One Source India) that manufactured at its own facility, defense hardware items and spare parts. From June 2010 to December 2012, Robert and R.P. conspired to export to India defense technical drawings without obtaining the necessary licenses from the U.S. Department of State. The exported technical drawings included parts used in torpedo systems for nuclear submarines in military attack helicopters and in F-15 fighter aircraft.
Robert allegedly lied on her bids for the DOD contracts, stating she would supply American-made products and that her N.J.-based company was a manufacturer, rather than a dealer, of defense spare parts. One Source USA also subcontracted to other American defense contractors, including those in Sussex County and Boca Raton, Fla. Robert provided export-controlled items made in India to these defense contractors so the items appeared to be manufactured in the United States.
In addition to U.S. sales, Robert and R.P. sold defense hardware items to foreign customers. Robert transmitted export-controlled technical data to R.P. in India so Robert and R.P. could submit bids to foreign individuals, including those in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to supply them or their foreign customers with defense hardware items and spare parts. Neither Robert nor R.P. obtained approval from the U.S. Department of State for this conduct.
On Aug. 23, 2012, R.P. emailed Robert from India requesting the technical drawing for a particular military item. R.P.’s email forwarded Robert an email from an individual purporting to be "an official contractor of the UAE Ministry of Defence," and who listed a business address in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The UAE email requested quotations for a bid for the "blanket assembly" for the CH-47F Chinook military helicopter and listed the "End User" for the hardware item as the UAE Armed Forces. Later that same day, Robert replied to R.P.’s email, attaching, among other things, the electronic file for an export-controlled technical drawing titled "Installation and Assy Acoustic Blankets, STA 120 CH-47F," to be used in the Chinook attack helicopter.
Starting in October 2010, Robert transmitted the military drawings for these parts to India by posting the technical data to the password-protected website of a Camden County church where she was a volunteer web administrator. This was done without the knowledge of the church staff. Robert emailed R.P. the username and password to the church website so that R.P. could download the files from India. Through the course of the scheme, Robert uploaded thousands of technical drawings to the church website for R.P. to download in India.
On June 25, 2012, R.P. emailed Robert from India, stating in part, "Please send me the church web site username and password."
The email was in reference to an invoice and quote for an individual known to Robert as a broker of defense hardware items for an end-user in Pakistan. This individual employed a UAE address for shipping purposes. Later that day, Robert replied to this email, providing a new username and password for the church website so that R.P. could download the particular defense drawings.
There were also quality issues with the parts that Robert provided to the DOD. In October 2012, after the DOD disclosed the failure of certain parts used in the wings of the F-15 fighter aircraft supplied by one of One Source USA’s American customers, Robert and R.P. provided the principal of that company with false and misleading material certifications and inspection reports for the parts. These documents, to be transmitted to the DOD, listed only One Source USA’s New Jersey address and not the address of the actual manufacturer in India, One Source India. As a result of the failed wing pins, the DOD grounded approximately 47 F-15 fighter aircraft for inspection and repair at an estimated cost of more than $150,000.
Until November 2012, Robert was an employee of a separate defense contractor in Burlington County, where she worked as a system analyst and had access to thousands of drawings marked with export-control warnings. She also had information about this defense contractor’s bids on DOD contracts. During her employment, Robert misrepresented to her employer the nature and extent of her involvement with One Source USA.
The conspiracy count with which Robert is charged is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The substantive violation of the Arms Export Control Act is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine. The indictment also seeks forfeiture of Robert’s proceeds from the alleged criminal scheme.
The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the export of defense articles and defense services without first obtaining a license from the U.S. Department of State and is one of the principal export control laws in the United States.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.