Feds: Ex-defense contractor stole F-35 documents, tried to send to Iran
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A former Manchester, Conn., resident who allegedly tried to ship 44 boxes of sensitive and proprietary military documents to Iran was arrested Thursday at an airport in Newark, N.J. on his way to Tehran, the U.S. Attorney's office announced Friday.
According to the federal criminal complaint against him, Mozaffar Khazaee, also known as "Arash Khazaie," obtained the documents from defense contractors he worked for as an engineer.
Khazaee allegedly shipped the documents from Connecticut to California, to be put on a container ship headed to Iran in November. In the shipping documents, Khazaee claimed the load contained "house hold goods," the complaint states.
A Customs and Border Protection team in California examined the shipment and discovered 44 boxes of sensitive technical manuals, specification sheets and other proprietary materials on the U.S. Air Force's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and military jet engines, including diagrams and blueprints.
The shipping company stated that the intended recipient of the shipment in Iran had said he was Khazaee's brother-in-law and that he intended to hold the "goods" until Khazaee returned to Iran, the complaint states.
Khazaee became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991 and holds both Iranian and U.S. citizenship, according to the complaint.
The documents were marked as the property of at least three different defense contractors that Khazaee worked for, according to the complaint. Most recently, he had worked for a defense contractor located in Connecticut until August 2013.
Federal authorities went to Khazaee's last known residence in Manchester and learned that he had recently moved to Indianapolis, Indiana.
According to the complaint, Khazaee booked a flight from Indianapolis to Tehran, Iran, for Jan. 9, with a returning flight scheduled for Jan. 21.
On Thursday, Khazaee was arrested before boarding a connecting flight at Newark Liberty International Airport in N.J. He appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark on Friday and is being detained pending transport to Connecticut, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Khazaee is charged with transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion, or fraud. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.