$60K seized in alleged scheme to ship Pratt files to Iran
Federal authorities have seized nearly $60,000 they say a former Pratt & Whitney employee might have received in connection with his alleged attempt to send files relating to military programs to Iran.
The disclosure was included in an updated indictment filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Bridgeport in the case against Mozaffar Khazaee, who authorities say sought to send the files to his brother-in-law in Iran.
Khazaee, 59, was arrested last month at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey on his way to Tehran, Iran.
He appeared in federal court in Bridgeport Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Reynolds told federal Magistrate Judge William I. Garfinkel that $59,945 was found in Khazaee's carry-on bag at the airport.
The indictment, which requires that Khazaee forfeit the money and all other property he received if convicted, also added a count of transporting stolen property across state lines from a third, unnamed company. Federal prosecutors had previously charged him with transporting stolen property from Company A, which is Pratt & Whitney, and Company B, the identity of which has not been disclosed by authorities.
As an engineer with Pratt & Whitney, Khazaee conducted strength and durability tests of all of the company's engines. He lost his job in August 2013 when the East Hartford manufacturer laid off hundreds of employees throughout the company.
Pratt, a division of United Technologies Corp., has said it is cooperating with the government's investigation, through it declined to comment on how an employee could steal thousands of the proprietary documents.
Federal authorities said Khazaee left his apartment in Manchester and moved to Indianapolis, where he had lived in 2005.
In October, he shipped boxes filled with a mix of personal property and thousands of sensitive and proprietary blueprints, diagrams and technical manuals relating to military jet engines and other turbines, according to court documents.
The boxes, labeled household goods, traveled by truck to Long Beach, Calif., where they were to be loaded onto the NYK Libra headed ultimately to Iran. In November, customs agents inspected the shipment and found the documents, and days later identified them as belonging to the three separate companies.
The shipment contained documents related to military aircraft engines, including the F-35 Lightning II, the Joint Strike Fighter and what federal agents referred to as the J136, which could refer to the F136 engine designed, and ultimately not built, by General Electric and Rolls-Royce for the F-35.
The case is being investigated by a team of federal law enforcement authorities, including Customs and Border Protection, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Air Force Office of Special Investigations and the Department of Commerce's Boston Office of Export Enforcement.