PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida, announced today that a federal grand jury has indicted a Pensacola business owner for conspiring to sell and export power generating equipment to a recipient in Iran, and concealing the scheme, as well as having payments routed to him via another foreign country. The five- count indictment alleges that Pensacola resident James P. Meharg, 59, CEO and president of Turbine Resources International, LLC, conspired with citizens of the United Kingdom and Iran to export a large turbine and parts from the United States to an Iranian recipient, in violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations as well as federal criminal law.
According to the indictment, Meharg, a citizen of the United States, conspired from October 1, 2017, to June 12, 2019, to violate the embargo by attempting to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine and parts from the United States, for delivery to an end user in Iran. On April 25, 2018, the indictment alleges, Meharg sent an invoice for $500,000 to a conspirator in the United Kingdom and received two partial payments of $124,950 each, on May 7 and May 24, 2018, at least one of which was routed through a company in Dubai.
“The security of the United States depends on protecting our nation from threats, whether those threats originate with foreign nationals or with American citizens who put their own profits ahead of the national interest,” U.S. Attorney Keefe said. “For decades, American presidents have declared the government of Iran to be a threat to our national security and thereby imposed sanctions, and this office is deeply committed to protecting the integrity of the United States in all ways.”
Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg, who is a National Security Cyber Specialist, is prosecuting the case following a joint investigation by the United States Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Meharg is charged with conspiring to export the turbine and its parts to Iran, submitting false and misleading export information, and defrauding the federal government by deceitfully obstructing the enforcement of laws against the export of goods to Iran. He is also charged with substantive offenses involving exporting items to Iran, filing false Electronic Export Information paperwork, and transporting funds from the United Arab Emirates with the intent to conduct the illegal activity. The defendant faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment each for the charges related to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and money laundering, and he faces up to 5 years’ imprisonment each for the conspiracy and filing false paperwork charges. A trial date has been set for September 3, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. at the United States Courthouse in Pensacola.
An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.