Pensacola Executive Sentenced To 40 Months In Federal Prison For Conspiring With Foreign Nationals To Ship Technology To Iran

January 26, 2020

PENSACOLA, FLORIDA – United States Attorney Lawrence Keefe, of the Northern District of Florida, today announced that Pensacola business owner James P. Meharg, 60, was sentenced to 40 months in prison on federal charges of conspiring to sell and export power generating equipment to a recipient in Iran, and concealing the scheme, as well as having payments routed to Meharg via a foreign country. Meharg, CEO and president of Turbine Resources International, LLC, in Pensacola, 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.

Meharg, a U.S. citizen, conspired from October 1, 2017, to June 12, 2019, to violate the Iranian 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. Evidence revealed that on April 25, 2018, 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. In total, Meharg received approximately $250,000 in funds laundered through foreign accounts as payment for having the turbine sent to Iran. Law enforcement authorities, however, were able to seize the turbine before its transatlantic journey to the end user in Iran. That end user, a conspirator in Iran, is linked to an Iranian energy company. Meharg also falsified documents used to lawfully export items from the United States.

“Exporting technology to Iran is prohibited by law in order to protect the national security interests of the United States of America, and this defendant chose to put his own self-interest and greed above such interests,” Keefe said. “Federal imprisonment should send a clear signal that the United States cannot and will not look the other way when one of its citizens endangers the safety of our nation.”

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that trade with Iran in violation of U.S. export control laws and regulations will not be tolerated,’ said Deputy Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement, Douglas Hassebrock. ‘The Bureau of Industry and Security will vigorously pursue parties that seek to profit from illegally supplying materials to Iran.’

Assistant United States Attorney David L. Goldberg, who is a National Security Cyber Specialist, prosecuted 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.

“This case serves as a reminder to anyone who acts as an agent of the Iranian government in the United States, that American law enforcement is relentless in our efforts to protect the national security of this country and the freedoms of our citizens,” said Rachel L. Rojas, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Jacksonville Division. “The FBI was proud to support our partners at the Department of Commerce – Bureau of Industry and Security in this case, and we are committed to disrupting any similar actions by individuals on behalf of Iran in the future.”

Meharg’s prison sentence will be followed by three years of federal supervised release. He was also ordered to forfeit a monetary judgment in the amount of $250,000.00.

The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.