SANTA ANA, Calif. - An Iranian-born United States citizen was sentenced here yesterday in U.S. District Court to two years in prison and six months of home confinement for illegally exporting U.S. military aircraft parts to Iran via associates in Germany and the United Arab Emirates.
Reza Tabib, 52, of Irvine, pleaded guilty in June 2006 to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which prohibits the export and re-export to Iran of certain items of U.S. origin. The prosecution is the result of a joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).
"One of ICE's top enforcement priorities is preventing terrorist groups and hostile nations from illegally obtaining U.S. military products and sensitive technology," said William Hayes, assistant special agent in charge for the ICE Office of Investigations in Orange County. "These items are controlled for good reason -- in the wrong hands, they could be used to inflict harm upon America or its allies."
In January 2006, agents intercepted and seized maintenance kits specifically designed for the F-14 "Tomcat" aircraft that Tabib, along with his wife, Terri Repic-Tabib, had sent to Iran via Germany. Agents arrested the couple at their Irvine residence in February 2006. A search of the Tabibs' home led to the seizure of 13,000 more aircraft parts worth an estimated $540,000. Those seized parts included military-grade hardware for different aircraft, including the F-14. The search also turned up numerous aircraft parts lists that were provided to the couple by an Iranian military officer. In addition, agents located two suitcases and two briefcases filled with aircraft parts believed to be destined for Iran. The investigation revealed that prior to his arrest, Tabib had purchased tickets to travel to Iran.
"Yesterday's sentencing brings to conclusion an investigation that identified and stopped a significant illegal conspiracy to provide U.S. military technology directly to the Iranian military," said Rick Gwin, special agent in charge for the DCIS Western Field Office. "This investigation signifies the aggressive pursuit by the DCIS, in cooperation with our other federal law enforcement partners, to identify and prosecute those who illegally export or steal our sensitive military technology."
Terri Repic-Tabib pleaded guilty to providing a false statement on a shippers' export declaration form and was sentenced to two years probation on March 26, 2006. Agents determined that Repic-Tabib intentionally avoided reporting requirements on the shipment of the F-14 "Tomcat" aircraft parts to Germany, which were ultimately destined for Iran.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).