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August 23, 2016Nashville, TN, United StatesCounter Proliferation Investigation Unit

4 former executives sentenced for illegally exporting weapons parts

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Four former executives of Sabre Defence Industries, LLC, a defense contractor formerly based in Nashville, were sentenced Friday in connection with their role in illegally exporting firearm components and other defense items. The sentencing follows an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives with assistance from the Department of Defense-Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

Charles Shearon, 60, of Goodlettsville, Elmer Hill, 69, of Brentwood, Michael Curlett, 49, of Wixom, Michigan, and Arnold See, Jr., 59, of Murfreesboro were sentenced by U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell. Sentences ranged from 13 to 18 months. All four previously pleaded guilty in March 2011, to violating the Arms Export Control Act and conspiracy.

“Stopping the illegal flow of weapons technology is a high priority for ICE Homeland Security Investigations,” said Special Agent in Charge of HSI New Orleans Raymond R. Parmer, Jr. “These men placed personal gain over their responsibility to support our national security.”

According to court documents, all four men admitted to their role in attempting to conceal Sabre’s illegal exports from 2003 until 2009 through the use of falsified shipping documents and the use of shipping crates with false bottoms. Sabre maintained a fictitious set of business records to conceal its unlawful shipments of firearm parts, lied about the value of items on shipping documents and also illegally imported firearm silencers.

Each of the four defendants pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act, and to conspiring to do so. Sabre had contracts with the U.S. government valued at more than $74 million for the manufacture of certain military-grade weapons, including the M16 rifle and other semi-automatic and fully-automatic firearms.  In pleading guilty, each of these four defendants admitted to conspiring to export firearms and firearm components that were classified as defense articles without first obtaining the required authorization from the U.S. Department of State. 

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William F. Abely and John K. Webb prosecuted the case on behalf of U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Tennessee David Rivera.