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The Region : Accused Arms Smuggler Pleads Guilty

January 15, 1986

A third person charged in a conspiracy to smuggle stolen military aircraft and parts to Iran has pleaded guilty in San Diego. Virginia Wheeler, an employee of the Naval Air Rework Facility in Norfolk, Va., pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States and illegal exportation of defense materials. Under a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, she faces a maximum sentence of seven years in prison and a $350,000 fine. Wheeler was accused of using her post to penetrate Navy security and aid a San Diego-based ring that prosecutors say transferred millions of dollars worth of sophisticated weaponry to Iran between 1981 and July, 1985. Her ex-husband, Daniel Wheeler, who also was an employee of the Navy facility in Norfolk, and Pedro M. Quito, a civilian warehouse worker at North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, also have pleaded guilty. The Wheelers stole more than $500,000 in military aircraft parts, the U.S. attorney's office said.

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