A former engineer for defense contractors was charged with trying to ship military documents to Iran, including materials related to the U.S. Air Force’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and jet engines.
Mozaffar Khazaee, 59, was arrested Jan. 9 at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey as he attempted to fly to Tehran, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut said in a prepared statement.
Khazaee, a native of Iran who became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1991, formerly lived in Manchester, Conn., and recently moved to Indianapolis, prosecutors said. He was arrested after arriving from Indiana and before he was able to board a connecting flight to Frankfurt.
Federal agents began probing Khazaee, also known as Arash Khazaie, in November when U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Homeland Security Department inspected a shipment he had sent to Long Beach, Calif., from Connecticut, bound for Hamadan, Iran, prosecutors said.
While documents accompanying the shipment indicated it contained household goods, a search revealed boxes of documents, including technical manuals, specification sheets and other materials related to the Joint Strike Fighter program and jet engines, according to court filings.
Khazaee is charged with transporting, transmitting and transferring in interstate or foreign commerce goods obtained by theft, conversion or fraud, and faces as long as 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
As recently as August, Khazaee worked as an engineer for defense contractors, including companies that own the documents and materials in his shipment, which he was required to return at the end of his employment, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors did not name the companies that Khazaee worked for, but Rolls-Royce North America in Indianapolis and Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut are heavily involved in the F-35 program.
Khazaee appeared Jan. 10 before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III in Newark and is being detained pending his transport to Connecticut for further proceedings, prosecutors said. He was represented by the Federal Public Defender’s Office in New Jersey, said Tom Carson, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut.
A voice-mail message left with the public defender after regular business hours wasn’t immediately returned.
The FBI, Homeland Security and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service worked on the case in Indianapolis.