The federal court trial of a Louisiana couple charged with conspiring to illegally export oil field equipment to Libya began Wednesday with opening arguments from attorneys in the case.
Cheryl and George Smith of Gretna, La., were arrested in January along with a Scottish businessman after a six-month undercover investigation by federal agents revealed that the three allegedly violated a trade embargo by arranging an equipment shipment to Libya.
Prosecutors say that, during the investigation, a U.S Customs agent posing as a salesman for Solar Turbines Inc. of San Diego, sold the Smiths machinery worth $250,000. The Smiths then sold the machinery to Scottish businessman Francis George Christie, knowing it was destined for Libya, government officials charge.
In his opening remarks before a jury in U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster's courtroom, Assistant U.S. Atty. Phillip L. Halpern said the Smiths' conduct smacks of "deceit," a "wanton disregard for the interests of the country and plain old-fashioned greed."
Warren R. Williamson, defense attorney for George Smith, countered that his client is the victim of government entrapment.
Judy Clarke, a federal public defender representing Cheryl Smith, declined to make an opening statement.