A federal judge this week sentenced a 39-year-old Iranian citizen to more than a year in prison for his part in a yearslong conspiracy to illegally ship military grade technology to Iran, including from a Minnesota company.
U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen sentenced Alireza Jalali to 15 months in prison after he pleaded guilty in November. The case outlined a yearslong plot that Justice Department officials claimed threatened national security.
Jalali worked for a Malaysian front company for Fanavar Moj, an Iranian business that the FBI in Minneapolis said designed components for the Iranian military’s missile systems.
Federal authorities said Jalali and other co-conspirators used Fanavor Moj to procure internationally controlled goods for Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps via “false statements, unlawful financial transactions, and other means.” Charges outlined a conspiracy that ran from 2009 through 2015.
“We must prevent U.S. technology from falling into the wrong hands, where it could be used against our military members,” FBI Acting Special Agent In Charge Robert Bone II said in a statement announcing the sentencing.
According to court records, Thief River Falls-based Digi-Key thought it was doing business with the Malaysian company when it shipped digital communications equipment to Jalali’s Green Wave Telecommunications in Kuala Lumpur. However, Jalali admitted that he and co-conspirators diverted the materials to Iran by hiding the ultimate illegal destination and end users of the technology.
“U.S. export controls are in place to keep sensitive technology from falling into the hands of our nation’s enemies,” said Special Agent in Charge Tracy Cormier of Homeland Security Investigations in St. Paul. “One of HSI’s highest priorities is to prevent illicit procurement networks, terrorist groups, and hostile nations from illegally obtaining military items and controlled dual-use technology.”
Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Fana Moj as a “Specially Designated National” for “providing financial, material, technological or orther support” to Iran’s military.
The FBI, U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement, and Homeland Security Investigations investigated the case, which was prosecuted by officials in Minnesota with assistance from New York prosecutors and a trial attorney from the Justice Department’s National Security Division’s counterintelligence and export control section.