Woodland Hills man pleads guilty to trying to ship missile components to Iran
An Iranian man living in Woodland Hills has pleaded guilty to attempting to illegally export missile components and radio test sets from the United States to Iran.
Davoud Baniameri, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois to one count of conspiring to export goods and technology to Iran without a license and one count of attempting to export defense articles without a license.
He allegedly conspired with Andro Telemi, 40, an Iranian living in the San Fernando Valley, and Syed Majid Mousavi, an Iranian living in Iran. Telemi pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. Mousavi remains a fugitive and is believed to be in Iran.
According to Baniameri's plea agreement, he negotiated the purchase of three Marconi radio kits from a company based in Illinois in 2008 and shipped them to his brother in Dubai, who then shipped them on to Iran. Prosecutors allege the deal came at Mousavi’s request,
The following year, Mousavi allegedly asked him to export 10 connector adapters for TOW and TOW2 missile systems to Iran. Baniameri allegedly enlisted Telemi's help in negotiating the purchase of the missile components from a company also based in Illinois which, unknown to them, was controlled by law enforcement.
Baniameri and Telemi completed the purchase in September 2009 and allegedly planned to export them to Dubai so that they could subsequently be shipped to Iran. Baniameri had planned to fly to Dubai to facilitate the transaction.
However, Baniameri was arrested Sept. 9, before he could leave the country, and the missile components were never shipped. Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Pope declined to comment on who the intended final recipient of the missile components was.
Baniameri’s defense attorney, Thomas Brandstrader, said his client decided, partially because of video evidence in the case, that going to trial would likely be fruitless.
Apart from his export business, Brandstrader said his client ran gas stations in the Los Angeles area and has a wife and two minor children. He characterized Baniameri as a productive member of society who made a “bad decision.”
“It’s been devastating to his family, his wife and his children,” he said.
Baniameri faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. In exchange for his guilty plea, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed to recommend a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months.
-- Abby Sewell