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Retired university professor convicted

AFOSI Badge and Shield

AFOSI Badge and Shield

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. -- A federal jury convicted retired University of Tennessee professor Dr. J. Reece Roth of illegally exporting military technical information related to plasma technology designed to be deployed on the wings of drones operating as weapons or surveillance systems due in part to investigations completed by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations on Sept. 3.

This was a precedent-setting case where an academic leader faced a 16-count indictment for alleged export violations by employing foreign graduate students on a restricted contract. The jury convicted Roth on all 16 counts, including one conspiracy charge.

"This conviction truly sends a message that the Air Force, through Air Force Office of Special Investigations and our federal law enforcement agency partners, will fully pursue those wrongfully providing controlled technologies to foreign countries," said Mr. Doug Thomas, HQ AFOSI executive director.

"Significant praise for this achievement and the hard work that went into this 2-year joint federal investigation goes to Special Agent Paula Alexander, PJ Detachment 2 in Atlanta, Georgia; Special Agent Jeremy Jarrard, PJ Detachment 3 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; and Special Agent In Charge Mike Tremblay, PJ Detachment 2 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio," said Special Agent Dermot O'Reilly, AFOSI PJ deputy director.

The Arms Export Control Act prohibits the export of defense-related materials, including the technical data, to a foreign national or a foreign nation, without the required United States government license. The illegal arms exports by Dr. Roth related to technical data and information that was developed by the U. S. Air Force research and development contract to develop this advanced use of the drone.

Dr. Roth was specifically convicted of one count of conspiring with Atmospheric Glow Technology, Inc., a Knoxville, Tennessee technology company, to unlawfully export fifteen different defense-related articles during 2005 and 2006, to a citizen of the People's Republic of China in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. In addition to being convicted for these 15 counts of violation of this Act, Dr. Roth was convicted on one count of wire fraud relating to defrauding the University of Tennessee of its honest services by illegally exporting sensitive military information relating to this U. S. Air Force contract.

The maximum punishment for the conspiracy conviction is 5 years imprisonment and a
$ 250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for each of the Arms Export Control Act offenses is 10 years imprisonment, a criminal fine of $ 1,000,000, and a mandatory special assessment of $ 100 for each offense. Dr. Roth's sentencing has been set for January 7, 2009, at 1:30 p.m., in the United States District Court in Knoxville.

"This verdict, by a jury of Dr. Roth's peers, demonstrates that our citizens and the United States will not tolerate such intentional conduct to undermine the security and the economy of our country. Our scientific and educational communities must take precautions to insure that technology and research are protected, when required, from disclosure to foreign governments," said U. S. Attorney Russ Dedrick in a Department of Justice news release.

Dedrick praised the efforts of all the investigative agencies and the attorneys for their fine work on this investigation and prosecution of the case. The indictment and conviction was the result of an ongoing two-year investigation by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the Department of Commerce Export Enforcement Agency.