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Ex-Marine accused of selling sensitive military equipment on EBay

March 5, 2012 |  5:55 pm

Laser filters on EBay A recently retired Marine was arrested and arraigned Monday on four counts of attempting to sell sensitive military laser light filters on EBay and ship them overseas, federal authorities said. He pleaded not guilty.

Sean Elias Sayegh, 41, of Rosamond is charged with four counts of making false statements on customs forms in his attempts to ship more than 100 laser light interference filters abroad between December 2009 and February 2010.  U.S. attorney spokesman Thom Mrozek declined to say where the filters were headed but said an undercover investigation led authorities to Sayegh.  

Sayegh worked in the Marine Aviation Supply Office as a staff sergeant at Edwards Air Force Base until his retirement from the Marine Corps in December 2011. Assistant U.S. Atty. Bill Crowfoot would not say if Sayegh procured the filters during his time in the service but confirmed that the alleged wrongdoing occurred during Sayegh’s time in uniform.

“The concern we have to have is that there’s a demand for these things by people whose interests are antagonistic to the United States,” Crowfoot said. “Irrespective of where somebody intends something to go, it might not end up where they intend.”

Authorities opened a probe into Sayegh after receiving a tip about the possible sale of the light filters  on EBay. According to the indictment, Sayegh falsely stated that his packages contained camera lenses, filters and other equipment, when in reality they contained the laser light filters. 

Officials say the sophisticated lights cannot legally be exported without a license from the State Department. The filters, which protect the optics inside night vision goggles from being damaged by lasers, are considered sensitive enough that the military requires that they be destroyed after use. Crowfoot could not comment on the online price of filters, citing the ongoing case; but on Monday, similar filters were selling on EBay for less than $40 a piece.

Sayegh faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, as well as a maximum $1-million fine. He is due back in court March 26.

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Photo: Laser light interference filters. Credit: Courtesy of U.S. attorney’s office

--Matt Stevens


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