From The Tribune staff reports
BIRMINGHAM – A 15-count indictment was unsealed today charging Ray Hunt, 69, of Madison County, with federal offenses related to an illegal scheme to export goods of U.S. origin to Iran.
The announcement was made by Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen (of the Justice Department’s National Security Division), U.S. Attorney Prim F. Escalona (for the Northern District of Alabama) and Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson, of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement (OEE) Miami Office.
According to the indictment, since at least November 2017, the defendant conspired to export U.S.-origin parts used in the oil and gas industry, including control valves and oil tubing, through his Alabama-based company, Vega Tools LLC, to customers in Iran. The defendant transshipped the goods to Iran through Turkey and the UAE to evade U.S. sanctions.
The indictment charges the defendant with conspiracy to defraud the United States, sanctions violations, smuggling goods from the United States, and submitting false or misleading export information.
Hunt was arrested and made his initial court appearance earlier today. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and up to a $1 million fine for violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. In addition, Hunt faces up to five years for the conspiracy charge, 10 years for the smuggling offense, and up to five years for the false information offense. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security investigated the case in coordination with the FBI.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Henry Cornelius and Jonathan “Jack” Harrington of the Northern District of Alabama, and Trial Attorneys Emma Dinan Ellenrieder and Adam P. Barry of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.