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Parkville man convicted in Iran embargo plot

A Parkville man was convicted Monday of conspiring to ship industrial components to Iran in violation of the U.S. trade embargo on that country, the U.S. attorney's office announced.

After a two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt, a jury found Ali Saboonchi, 34, guilty of one count of conspiracy and seven counts of illegally transporting U.S.-manufactured goods and services to Iran, the federal prosecutor's office said.

The United States has outlawed commerce with Iran since 1995. Saboonchi, a U.S. citizen, was accused of conspiring with two Iranian citizens to evade the trade embargo by shipping banned goods to other countries, from where the materials were then forwarded to Iran. Among the industrial components shipped were pumps and valves, filter elements and flow meters, which are used in the oil and gas, chemical, water and nuclear power industries, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Saboonchi set up an electric company, and paid for and took delivery of most of the goods. He then shipped them to co-conspirators in the United Arab Emirates and, in at least one case, China. The co-conspirators, who also were indicted in 2013, repaid Saboonchi and arranged to send the goods on to Iranian businesses.

"We work every day to keep what may seem like benign technology and ideas created here in America from being used against us," Steve Vogt, FBI Special Agent in Charge of Baltimore, said in a statement. "These illegal export cases happen more often than the general public gets to see, and it will impact all of us if these conspirators aren't caught and stopped."

Saboonchi faces up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy charge and on each of the illegal export counts. Judge Paul W. Grimm set sentencing for Feb. 15.

tim.wheeler@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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