A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced confessed arms dealer Jacques Monsieur to three years in prison, less than half the time prosecutors had sought.
Monsieur, who pled guilty to one charge relating to a conspiracy to export F-5 fighter jet engines and parts from the U.S. to Iran in 2009, will serve 23 months in prison, having already spent 13 months behind bars, and will be transferred to immigration officials for possible deportation upon his release, according to a ruling by Chief Judge William H. Steele of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama.
Monsieur is a Belgium native and resident of France.
Monsieur’s crime — exporting defense articles without having first obtained an export license — would have typically warranted a maximum penalty of five years.
But the U.S. government sought to lengthen Monsieur’s sentence by linking his crime to terrorism. If the court had applied the USSG Section 3A1.4 enhancement, as the government suggested, he could have received a sentence more than twice as long.
The enhancement applies to any felony “that involved, or was intended to promote, a federal crime of terrorism.”
The defense argued for a term of just under four years, contending Monsieur’s alleged crime did not meet the federal definition of terrorism because his actions were not motivated by a desire to “influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct,” as the law requires.
In response to a presentence report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office that was endorsed by the prosecution, Monsieur’s attorney Arthur J. Madden III of Madden & Soto said that his client’s alleged crime was not expressly listed in the law as a terrorist offense.
Monsieur was arrested in August 2009 on his arrival in New York, the U.S. Department of Justice said at the time. Alleged co-conspirator Dara Fotouhi, who was also charged in the indictment, remains at large, the DOJ said.
A 12-count indictment filed by prosecutors accused Monsieur and Fotouhi, an Iranian national, of conspiracy, money laundering and smuggling, as well as violations of the Arms Export Control Act and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Monsieur pled guilty only to the charge of exporting defense materials without a permit.
According to the indictment, Monsieur and Fotouhi, who are both experienced arms dealers, had been actively working with the Iranian government to procure arms for it.
In February 2009, Monsieur contacted an undercover U.S. federal agent, seeking engines for the F-5 fighter jet and the C-130 military transport aircraft for export to Iran, the indictment said. He remained in regular e-mail contact with the undercover agent regarding the requested F-5 engines and parts, it said.
In the plea agreement, Monsieur admitted that “on May 22, 2009, my co-defendant Dara Fotouhi and I met in London … with a government agent acting in an undercover capacity and negotiated with the agent for the illegal export of J85-21 engines from the United States to Iran.”
In June 2009, Monsieur sent an e-mail to the undercover agent and provided a purchase order for F-5 fighter jet parts from a front company for an organization known as Trast Aero Space, located in Kyrgyzstan, according to the DOJ. The department also said the order requested that the parts be located by the undercover agent and illegally exported to the United Arab Emirates for the shipment to Iran.
Monsieur later contacted the undercover agent to say that about $110,000 had been wired from Dubai to a bank account in Alabama as payment for the parts and that he planned to deposit another $300,000 as a down payment for two jet engines, according to the plea agreement.
The parts and engines at issue currently are controlled by the U.S. Department of State and require licenses from both the State Department and Department of the Treasury because of the U.S. trade embargo with Iran, according to the DOJ.
Madden refused to comment Wednesday.
The U.S. attorney’s office could not be immediately reached Wednesday.
Monsieur is represented in the matter by Madden & Soto.
Source: / Iranwatch /