University Professor and Tennessee Company Charged with Arms Export Violations

Special to HarpBlaster.com

KNOXVILLE, Tenn., May 20, 2008 — A federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Tennessee returned an 18-count indictment today charging a Professor Emeritus at The University of Tennessee with conspiring to defraud the U.S. Air Force and disclose restricted U.S. military data about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to foreign nationals without first obtaining the required U.S. government license or approval.

J. Reece Roth, 70, of Knoxville, Tenn., is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Air Force and violate the Arms Export Control Act; 15 counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act, and one count of wire fraud for defrauding the University of Tennessee. AGT is charged in the indictment with one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Air Force and violate the Arms Export Control Act and 10 counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act.

He is anticipated to make his initial court appearance next week before a U.S. Magistrate Judge.

The indictment was announced today by James R. Dedrick, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Patrick Rowan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.

According to the indictment, between January 2004 and May 2006, Roth and Atmospheric Glow Technologies Inc. (AGT), a Knoxville-based technology company, engaged in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Air Force and transmit export-controlled technical data related to a restricted U.S. Air Force contract to develop plasma actuators for a munitions-type UAV, or “drone,” to one or more foreign nationals, including a citizen from the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese national was a graduate research assistant at the University of Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee cooperated throughout with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) led federal investigation, authorities said.

Roth departed for China in May 2006 and carried multiple documents, which were subject to export controls, containing technical data controlled by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations and related to the above U.S. Air Force contract, authorities allege.

In May 2006, Roth directed the wire transmission to an individual in China of a document containing restricted technical data controlled by the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations and related to the above contract, according to the indictment.

Violations of the Arms Export Control Act carry a maximum possible penalty of ten years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine. Wire fraud carries a maximum possible penalty of 20 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, while conspiracy carries a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a 250,000 fine.

“The protection of United States technology is a continuing priority of the Department of Justice and this District,” United Dedrick said.
“Whenever restricted U.S. military data is illegally disclosed to foreign nationals, America’s security is put at risk. Today’s indictment demonstrates just how seriously we view such violations,” said Assistant Attorney General Rowan.

These investigations were jointly conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey Theodore and Will Mackie of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

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