Former Connecticut Resident Indicted for Attempting to Ship Sensitive Military Documents to Iran
|U.S. Attorney’s Office January 21, 2014|
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that a federal grand jury sitting in Bridgeport returned an indictment today charging Mozaffar Khazaee, also known as “Arash Khazaie,” 59, formerly of Manchester, Connecticut, with two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property. The indictment stems from Khazaee’s alleged attempt to ship to Iran proprietary material relating to military jet engines and the U.S. Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program that he had illegally retained from defense contractors where he had been employed.
As alleged in court documents, federal law enforcement agents began investigating Khazaee in November 2013 when officers with U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP), assisted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents, inspected a shipment that Khazaee sent by truck from Connecticut to a freight forwarder located in Long Beach, California, which was intended for shipment from the U.S. to Iran. The documentation for Khazaee’s shipment indicated that it contained household goods. Upon inspecting the shipment, however, CBP officers and HSI personnel discovered that the content of the shipment primarily contained numerous boxes of documents consisting of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets, and other proprietary material relating to the U.S. Air Force’s F35 Joint Strike Fighter program and military jet engines. Upon further investigation, law enforcement learned that Khazaee holds Iranian and U.S. citizenship and, as recently as August 2013, worked as an engineer for defense contractors, including firms that are the actual owners of the technical and proprietary documents and materials in Khazaee’s shipment.
Khazaee, who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991 and holds a valid U.S. passport, recently moved from Connecticut to Indianapolis.
On January 9, 2014, Khazaee was arrested by HSI and FBI agents at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey after flying from Indianapolis to Newark, before he was able to board a connecting flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Khazaee’s ticketed destination was Tehran, Iran.
Khazaee is detained pending his transport to Connecticut. His arraignment is not yet scheduled.
The indictment charges Khazaee with two counts of transporting, transmitting, and transferring in interstate commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion, or fraud. Each charge carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000.
U.S. Attorney Daly stressed that an indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Charges are only allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
U.S. Attorney Daly stated that there is an ongoing investigation in this matter and encouraged anyone with information that may be relevant to that investigation to call HSI at 203-773-2155 or the FBI at 203-503-5000.
This matter is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations in New Haven and Los Angeles, the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in New Haven, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Service in Los Angeles, the U.S. Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations in Los Angeles and Boston, and the Department of Commerce’s Boston Office of Export Enforcement.
U.S. Attorney Daly also commended the efforts of the many other agencies and offices that have been involved in this investigation, including the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Central District of California, the Southern District of Indiana, and the District of New Jersey, as well as HSI, CBP, and FBI in New Jersey and HSI, FBI and DCIS in Indianapolis.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Reynolds of the District of Connecticut and Trial Attorney Brian Fleming of the Justice Department’s Counterespionage Section (CES).