WASHINGTON — A former U.S. Army officer who operated a business that sold military-grade weapons parts and accessories pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Arms Export Control Act by selling restricted items without a license. He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge stemming from his unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents that he obtained while he was in the Army.
Justin Gage Jangraw, 34, of Rockford, Mich., entered the guilty plea in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Jangraw's case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) offices in Atlanta and Portland, Oregon, with assistance from the FBI's Portland Division.
The Honorable James E. Boasberg scheduled sentencing for Nov. 21. The export charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison and the charge involving classified documents carries up to a year in prison. Both charges also carry potential financial penalties. In addition, Jangraw agreed, as a condition of his plea, to the forfeiture of an AR-15 assault rifle and 117 magazines, as well as various weapons parts, which were seized by law enforcement during the investigation.
According to a statement of facts filed as part of the guilty plea, Jangraw is a former U.S. Army captain once deployed to Iraq. He later operated an online business, using the names "Heapeach" and "Sexyweapon.com," in Portland. The business sold military-grade weapons parts and accessories to customers located worldwide.
The Arms Export Control Act (AECA) controls the export of defense articles as designated on the United States Munitions List. The AECA and its attendant regulations, the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), require a person to apply for and obtain a license from the Department of State before exporting from the United States any arms, ammunition or articles of war that are designated on the Munitions List.
From November 2009 through January 2011, according to the statement of facts, Jangraw sold and exported from the United States a total of 287 Munitions List items – including riflescopes manufactured to military specifications – to international customers in 34 different foreign countries, generating more than $12,000.
Jangraw willfully exported Munitions List parts and accessories even though he and his business never applied for or obtained a license to export defense articles from the United States. He did so with full knowledge of the licensing requirements.
Following an undercover HSI investigation, HSI agents obtained a warrant to search Jangraw's Portland residence, where he was living at the time. During the search, in April 2011, agents seized four computers and electronic media, gun magazines, documents and products such as a weapon sight, gun rails, gun parts and an AR-15 assault rifle.
A subsequent review of images seized from Jangraw's laptop computer led to the discovery of classified material that included emails from Jangraw's work with the Army. The FBI was alerted and performed a follow-up search in July 2011 that led to the discovery of additional material that Jangraw had removed, without authorization, from Iraq. He took the laptop with him to numerous foreign countries and accessed unprotected Wi-Fi networks with the laptop while it contained the classified documents. The hundreds of classified documents contained information on military plans, weapons systems or operations, and other subjects pertaining to national security.
"Justin Jangraw repeatedly showed a disregard for our national security," said Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. "He held onto classified material after leaving the U.S. Army, keeping sensitive information on his laptop. Then, when he went into business, he sold strictly regulated weapons parts to international customers without a license. We appreciate the work of our law enforcement partners in now bringing him to justice."
"This defendant betrayed the oath he took to uphold the Constitution of the United States by knowingly circumventing our laws to export sensitive technology to anyone with the money to pay for it," said Acting Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Spradlin, of HSI Atlanta. "Thanks to the hard work of federal prosecutors and Homeland Security Investigations special agents in Atlanta and Portland, with significant support from the FBI, this criminal scheme has been shut down and the defendant will be held responsible for his flagrant violation of the law."
"The mishandling of classified material has the potential to cause serious damage to national security as well as to jeopardize the lives of our U.S. forces who put themselves in harm's way every day," said Special Agent in Charge Gregory T. Bretzing, of the FBI's Portland division. "A top priority of the FBI has always been to protect critical national secrets and assets and prevent them from falling into the wrong hands. This case is an excellent example of not only our dedication to protecting national security but also the hard work and dedication from our partners in the Department of Defense."