Iranian woman pleads guilty in Minnesota in tech smuggling case

Negar Ghodskani, an Iranian national, pleaded guilty in Minnesota on Friday to conspiring to facilitate the illegal export of communications technology from the U.S. to Iran. (Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
By Bradford Betz
Source: FoxNews

An Iranian woman in Minnesota on Friday pleaded guilty to charges that she stole technology from U.S.-based companies — tech that was then exported to Iran through a fake company in violation of U.S. law and international sanctions.

Negar Ghodskani, 40, and others established a front company in Malaysia to illegally obtain restricted technology from companies in Minnesota and Massachusetts, federal prosecutors said.

Ghodskani was indicted in 2015 in Minnesota and arrested two years later in Australia, becoming the subject of a long extradition fight. She entered her plea before U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen in Minneapolis.

Her attorney, Robert Richman, said she accepted the plea agreement “because she wanted to accept responsibility and be sentenced.” He said the toll of the long legal tussle was why Ghodskani decided to stop resisting extradition, having arrived in the U.S. last month.

Under an agreement filed Friday, Ghodskani agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the U.S., which carries a maximum potential sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss the other charges.

According to the indictment and the plea agreement, Ghodskani worked for Fana Moj, a Tehran-based company that specializes in broadcast and microwave communications equipment, and supplies microwave radio systems and wireless broadband service in Iran.

Prosecutors said Ghodskani and others established Green Wave Telecommunication in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, as a front for buying restricted equipment and unlawfully reshipping it to Tehran. The Treasury Department put Fana Moj on a list of banned companies in 2017, accusing it of providing support to the powerful Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

Ghodskani’s plea agreement does not include a sentencing recommendation, but the nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of 46 to 57 months and a fine of up to $200,000.

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