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Maryland man sentenced for obstructing investigations related to government security clearance

BALTIMORE — A Potomac, Md., man was sentenced Friday for obstruction of agency proceedings, in connection with false statements he made to investigators during his background investigation for a high-level government security clearance.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).

Gurpreet Singh Kohli, 58, was sentenced to six months of home detention with electronic monitoring, as part of three years' probation and ordered to pay a fine of $30,000.

According to his plea agreement, from November 2002 through March 2011, Kohli operated NAVTEC, LLC, from his residence and locations in India.  NAVTEC was registered with the U.S. Department of State to act as a broker in the sale and transfer of U.S. manufactured defense electronics and related components. NAVTEC represented U.S. based manufacturers and suppliers of sophisticated defense electronics. The majority of NAVTEC's customers were Indian government and military and defense-related agencies and Kohli was responsible for the day-to-day decision making and operations of NAVTEC.

From September 2003 through April 4, 2011, Kohli also held a full-time position with a defense electronics and weapons manufacturer based in Maryland, for which he was required to obtain and maintain a U.S. government security clearance. As part of his job, Kohli was involved in developing business opportunities with Indian military and defense-related government entities. Kohli did not reveal to his employer the full scope of his activities with NAVTEC, nor did he reveal his employment with the Maryland company to all of NAVTEC's U.S. based clients.

Kohli admitted that during two separate background investigations by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) relative to his security clearance, required to maintain his employment with the Maryland defense contractor, he made a number of false statements and representations regarding his activities for NAVTEC and his contacts with foreign nationals. Specifically, Kohli minimized the nature and scope of his activities with NAVTEC and under oath denied that he had any established foreign business contacts or associations with Indian government organizations.  Other false statements included that his contact with foreign nationals was limited to relatives in India; that his foreign business travel was limited to attending trade and air shows on behalf of the Maryland defense contractor; and that his contact with a foreign government or its representatives was limited to business meetings in the United States on behalf of the Maryland defense contractor.  During a follow-up interview with an OPM investigator on March 9, 2011, Kohli falsely denied having any other employment or business ventures outside of his employment with the Maryland defense contractor.

In fact, Kohli admitted that he traveled to India periodically to meet with NAVTEC's Indian government clients and conduct NAVTEC business.  Occasionally, Kohli was accompanied by representatives of the defense electronics manufacturers/suppliers that NAVTEC represented, as well as his son, who assisted with NAVTEC business.

On Sept. 7, 2010, Kohli was interviewed by HSI and FBI special agents in relation to his son's pending application for employment with the FBI.  Kohli minimized his son's role with NAVTEC, his contact with NAVTEC's U.S. clients and Indian customers and falsely stated that his wife ran NAVTEC.  Kohli also lied about the purpose of his Indian travel, stating that his foreign travel was limited to matters involving his employment with the Maryland defense contractor and that he did not meet with Indian government officials.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian for the District of Maryland.