SHERMAN, Texas — A North Texas man was sentenced Wednesday to 46 months in federal prison for conspiring to smuggle and illegally export from the U.S. radiation-hardened integrated circuits (RHICs) for use in the space programs of China and Russia.
Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security Dana J. Boente and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas Alan R. Jackson announced this sentence, which was imposed by U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant.
This case was investigated by the following agencies: the Dallas and Denver offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); the FBI; the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement; the Department of Defense’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service; and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
According to the plea agreement, between about June 2015 and March 2016, Peter Zuccarelli, 62, of Plano, Texas, and his co-conspirators agreed to illegally export RHICs to China and Russia in violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). RHICs have military and space applications, and their export is strictly controlled. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Zuccarelli’s co-conspirator received purchase orders from customers seeking to purchase RHICs for use in China’s and Russia’s space programs. Zuccarelli received these orders from his co-conspirator, as well as payment of about $1.5 million to purchase the RHICs for the Chinese and Russian customers. Zuccarelli placed orders with U.S. suppliers, and used the money received from his co-conspirator to pay the U.S. suppliers. In communications with the U.S. suppliers, Zuccarelli certified that his company, American Coating Technologies, was the end user of the RHICs, knowing that this was false. Zuccarelli received the RHICs he ordered from U.S. suppliers, removed them from their original packaging, repackaged them, falsely declared them as “touch screen parts,” and shipped them out of the U.S. without the required licenses. He also attempted to export what he believed to be RHICs. In an attempt to hide the conspiracy from the U.S. government, he created false paperwork and made false statements.
“The United States rightfully restricts, as a national security concern, the exportation of technological equipment that can, if not controlled, be put to improper use,” said U.S. Attorney Alan R. Jackson. “This prosecution confirms the resolve of the Eastern District of Texas, working with its law enforcement partners, to enforce those restrictions for the safety of our citizens.”
Zuccarelli was also sentenced to three years supervised release and a $50,000 fine.
This case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.