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Venezuelan colonel sentenced for arms deal

Aug. 27, 2013 at 1:18 PM   |   Comments

PHOENIX, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- A Venezuelan Air Force colonel has been sentenced to 19 months in U.S. prison for violating the Arms Export Control Act, government officials said.

Col. Guiseppe Luciano Menegazzo-Carrasquel, 49, will serve the prison term followed by three years' probation for conspiring with a U.S. company over the sale of a proprietary airplane engine without the necessary clearance from the State Department, U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said in a release Menegazzo-Carrasquel was working with Marsh Aviation of Phoenix from November 2005 to February 2008 to refurbish and sell 18 T-76 aircraft. Menegazzo-Carrasquel and Marsh lied to the government saying the planes would be used for civilian purposes when in reality they were being purchased on behalf of the Venezuelan Air Force.

The T-76 engine is a designated item on the U.S. Munitions List. Under the Arms Export Control Act, that means for it to be sold to a foreign agent, the State Department must first investigate the purpose and sign off on the deal. It is used in light aircraft for counterinsurgency operations.

Matt Allen, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Arizona, said Menegazzo-Carrasquel and Floyd Stillwell, the former president of Marsh Aviation, deliberately lied to the government to complete the sale.

"Our investigation showed that the defendants in this case falsely claimed these engines were parts for civilian aircraft in an attempt to circumvent the law," Allen said. "The enforcement of arms export controls keeps America safe. One of [Homeland Security's] top enforcement priorities is preventing military equipment and sensitive technology from falling into the hands of those who might seek to harm America or its allies."

Stillwell pleaded guilty in 2012 to conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act and was sentenced to five years probation and a $250,000 fine.

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