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Counter Proliferation Investigation Unit

New York man sentenced for attempting to illegally export carbon fiber to Iran

NEW YORK — A Bronx man was sentenced Thursday for attempting to export high-technology commodities to Iran. This sentencing comes as a result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS).

Richard Phillips, 54, was sentenced to 92 months imprisonment for attempting to export carbon fiber to Iran in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

"As alleged, Mr. Phillips was well aware that this carbon fiber is a restricted commodity and its exportation to Iran is prohibited by federal law," said James T. Hayes Jr., special agent in charge of HSI New York. "HSI will continue to work diligently to expose individuals and organizations who will carelessly allow sensitive technology to fall into the wrong hands and jeopardize America's national security."

"This investigation demonstrates the continued commitment of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and fellow agencies in pro-actively identifying individuals and groups intent on acquiring and exporting U.S. military technology," said Ed Bradley, special agent in charge of DCIS, Northeast Field Office. "It is imperative that those involved in attempting to illegally export U.S. technology be identified and held accountable for their actions."

"We stand committed to protecting our national security by vigorously enforcing our nation's export control laws," said U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch, Eastern District of New York. "The sentence in this case should serve as a powerful deterrent to those who would violate the Iranian embargo and send sensitive technology and equipment abroad."

As per court documents, in October 2011, Phillips offered his services and expertise in exporting a spool of carbon fiber to Tehran, Iran, via the Philippines, in violation of the U.S. trade embargo against Iran. The two main applications of carbon fiber are in specialized technology, including aerospace and nuclear engineering, and in general engineering and transportation. In a recorded telephone conversation with an undercover special agent, Phillips was warned that the export of the carbon fiber to Iran was illegal under the trade embargo.

After a series of calls, email exchanges and meetings with HSI and DCIS undercover special agents, Phillips took possession of a spool of carbon fiber, which was placed into a shipping container, and affixed a label to the container addressed to the Philippines, where it was to be forwarded to Iran. In a recorded conversation shortly before his arrest, Phillips stated, "By December, I plan on having an office in the Philippines . . . . So, at that point in time the Feds can't even say anything because I'm no longer in this country, you're selling it to an individual in the Philippines, and you don't give a f--k what they do with it."

HSI aims to prevent terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive technology, including weapons of mass destruction. The Counter-Proliferation Investigations Unit, part of the HSI National Security Investigations Division, oversees a broad range of investigations related to export law violations. It enforces U.S. export laws involving military items and controlled dual-use goods, as well as products going to sanctioned or embargoed countries. For more information, visit www.ICE.gov/HSI.