Former Milwaukee Man Convicted in Federal Court of Exporting F-16 Military Parts to the Venezuelan Air Force
United States Attorney James L. Santelle announced that following a three-day jury trial, Ronald A. Dobek (age 39), formerly of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was convicted yesterday of conspiring to export and exporting F-16 military parts to the Venezuelan Air Force (VAF) without a license or authority from the U.S. Department of State. The jury returned guilty verdicts on all three counts of the indictment that charged Dobek with conspiring to violate U.S. export laws and unlawfully exporting F-16 parts to Venezuela on December 29, 2007 and December 6, 2008. Dobek faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 25 years. Sentencing for Dobek has been scheduled for September 10, 2014, before Honorable Rudolph T. Randa, United States District Judge.
In furtherance of its security and foreign policy interests, the United States, through the State Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC), regulates and restricts the export of arms, munitions, implements of war, and defense articles, pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act, 22 U.S.C. § 2778. The regulations promulgated by the State Department that govern such exports are known as the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), 22 C.F.R. §§ 120-130. The ITAR contain a list of defense articles and defense services subject to control by these regulations known as the United States Munitions List (USML) and is found at 22 C.F.R. § 121.1. Defense articles are items and technical data “specifically designed, developed, configured, adapted, or modified for a military application.” 22 C.F.R. § 120.3. No defense articles or defense services may be exported or otherwise transferred from the United States to a foreign national or foreign country without a license from the DDTC.
On August 17, 2006, the United States Department of State announced that it would no longer authorize the export of defense articles and services to Venezuela. Additionally, the State Department revoked all existing licenses and authorizations to export defense articles and services to Venezuela. Thus, as of that date, it became illegal to export defense articles or services to Venezuela.
The evidence presented at trial showed that despite knowing about the U.S. embargo of Venezuela, Dobek conspired with a member of the VAF to supply the VAF with F-16 canopy seals for Venezuelan’s fleet of F-16 military jets. The evidence showed that Dobek exchanged numerous e-mails with a member of the VAF in which they discussed obtaining the F-16 canopy seals and the need to keep their operation secret. Dobek took other steps to conceal his illegal activity, including misidentifying the shipments as “t-molding” on shipping documents. As a result, Dobek sent shipments of F-16 canopy seals to a member of the VAF in Venezuela on or about December 29, 2007 and December 6, 2008.
In announcing this verdict, United States Attorney James L. Santelle stated, “Anyone who, like Ronald Dobek, elects to violate the Arms Export Control Act and the clear regulations implementing it will be investigated exhaustively—both domestically and internationally—and be convicted for crimes that jeopardize the safety and the security of our nation. I commend specially the outstanding, professional work of the special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, the Department of Defense-Office of Inspector General, and of the prosecuting attorneys and staff of my office whose tenacity and focus ensured that this kind of conspiratorial engagement with foreign entities was terminated—to the benefit of all Americans.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations, and the Department of Defense-Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Erica O’Neil and Michael Chmelar.