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Man pleads guilty to trying to illegally export missile parts to Iran

Davoud Baniameri of Woodland Hills also pleads guilty to conspiring to unlawfully export radio test sets to Iran.

June 01, 2011|By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times

An Iranian man living in Woodland Hills pleaded guilty Tuesday in plots to illegally export missile components and radio test sets to Iran.

Davoud Baniameri, 38, pleaded guilty in federal court in Illinois to one count of conspiring to export goods and technology to Iran without a license and a single count of attempting to export defense articles without a license.

Baniameri is an Iranian citizen who lived in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident and ran an export business. He was arrested in September 2009 and indicted that December.

He allegedly conspired with Andro Telemi, 40, an Iranian living in the San Fernando Valley, and Syed Majid Mousavi, an Iranian citizen who lived in Iran and ran an import business.

Telemi pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial. Mousavi remains at large and is believed to be in Iran.

According to Baniameri's plea agreement, he negotiated the purchase of three Marconi radio kits from an Illinois-based company in 2008 and shipped them to his brother in Dubai, who then shipped them on to Iran. Baniameri alleged that the deal came at Mousavi's request.

The following year, Mousavi allegedly asked him to export 10 connector adapters for TOW and TOW2 missile systems to Iran.

In an email to Mousavi, an excerpt of which was included with the plea agreement, Baniameri said they needed a license to export the parts "but anyway I am going to do something."

He added: "Also these stupid people directly by email from Iran tried to purchase goods.... As I understand these connector adapters would use in the system [sic] and they are military parts in the U.S. Tell them if they wanted an aircraft it was easier!!!"

Baniameri allegedly enlisted Telemi's help in negotiating the purchase of the missile components from an Illinois company that, unbeknown to them, was controlled by law enforcement.

Baniameri and Telemi completed the purchase in September 2009 for $9,450 and allegedly planned to export the missile components to Dubai, from which they would be shipped to Iran. Baniameri allegedly planned to fly to Dubai to facilitate the transaction but was arrested at LAX on Sept. 9, before he could leave the country, and the missile components were never shipped.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Patrick Pope declined to comment on the intended final recipient of the missile components.

Baniameri's defense attorney, Thomas Brandstrader, said his client decided, partly because of video evidence in the case, that going to trial would probably be fruitless. Apart from his export business, Brandstrader said, his client ran gas stations in the Los Angeles area and has a wife and two minor children.

He said that, with or without licenses, thousands of people export goods to Iran and characterized Baniameri as a productive member of society who made a "bad decision."

"It's been devastating to his family, his wife and his children," Brandstrader said.

Baniameri faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. In exchange for his guilty plea, the government agreed to recommend a sentencing range of 46 to 57 months.

He remains in custody, with sentencing set for Aug. 4.

abby.sewell@latimes.com

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