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Engineer Pleads Not Guilty in Sale of Nuclear Triggers

November 27, 2001|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

An electronics engineer pleaded not guilty Monday to federal charges that he illegally sold an Israeli company more than 800 miniature devices that can be used to trigger nuclear weapons.

Richard Kelly Smyth, 72, formerly of Huntington Beach, was extradited two weeks ago from Spain, where he had lived for 16 years as a fugitive, authorities said.

Smyth fled the United States in 1985 before his trial on 15 counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and 15 counts of making false statements to the government.

Krytrons, the electronic devices Smyth is accused of selling, have various military and civilian uses, including photocopying and strobe lighting. But they are on the U.S. Munitions List, meaning they cannot be exported without State Department consent. Smyth is accused of falsifying shipping forms to evade the arms-export law.

Smyth, who operated an export and engineering business, Milco International Inc. in Huntington Beach, held a top security clearance.

Besides the 30 criminal counts pending against Smyth from the original indictment, he could be indicted for jumping bail and fleeing the country, Assistant U.S. Atty. David Vaughn said earlier this month.

Smyth was returned to Los Angeles Nov. 16, his trial is set to begin Jan. 15.

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