California man pleads guilty to attempting to illegally export missile components to Iran

CHICAGO – A California man pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to illegally export missile components from the U.S. to Iran, via the United Arab Emirates.

The guilty plea was announced by the following agency leaders: Gary S. Shapiro, acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Gary J. Hartwig, special agent in charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Chicago; Richard D. Zott, special agent in charge of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service's Central Field Office in St. Louis; Ronald B. Orzel, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the Department of Commerce's Office of Export Enforcement; and Thomas Jankowski, acting special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division. The Chicago Police Department also assisted in the investigation.

Andro Telemi, 42, of Sun Valley, Calif., pleaded guilty July 26 to one count of attempting to export defense articles from the U.S. to Iran without a license or approval from the U.S. Department of State, which is in violation of the Arms Export Control Act.

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan set sentencing for Oct. 30. Telemi faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Telemi pleaded guilty without entering into a plea agreement with the government.

"Our national security is threatened when anyone attempts to illegally export restricted military components that could fall into the wrong hands," Hartwig said. "HSI will continue to aggressively investigate individuals and organizations who would seek to sell sensitive technology at the expense of our own security."

Telemi, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Iran, aka "Andre Telimi" and "Andre Telemi," was indicted in December 2009, along with co-defendant Davoud Baniameri, 39, of Woodland Hills, Calif. A superseding indictment in July 2010 charged Baniameri, Telemi and a third defendant, Syed Majid Mousavi, an Iranian citizen living in Iran. Baniameri pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 51 months in federal prison. Mousavi, aka "Majid Moosavy," remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Iran.

According to Telemi's guilty plea and court records, sometime before Aug. 17, 2009, Baniameri contacted Telemi and requested his assistance in purchasing and exporting to Iran via Dubai 10 connector adapters for the TOW and TOW2 anti-armor missile systems. Telemi agreed, and over the next month they negotiated the purchase of 10 connector adaptors for $9,450 from a company in Illinois which, unbeknownst to them, was controlled by law enforcement. In September 2009, after Baniemeri made a down payment to the Illinois company, he arranged for Telemi to pay the remaining balance and take possession of the connector adaptors in California. Telemi knew that he needed to obtain a license from the U.S. government to export the connector adaptors, and at no time did he or anyone else obtain, or attempt to obtain, such a license.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick C. Pope, Northern District of Illinois, is prosecuting the case.