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U.S. arms dealer pleads guilty in Afghan weapons case
August 31, 2009 / 5:28 PM / 8 years ago

U.S. arms dealer pleads guilty in Afghan weapons case

MIAMI (Reuters) - A U.S. arms dealer who illegally supplied Chinese-made ammunition to Afghanistan under a Pentagon contract pleaded guilty to a single conspiracy charge and the U.S. government dropped 84 other counts, court documents said.

Efraim Diveroli, 23, of Miami Beach, Florida, faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the charge of conspiring to defraud the United States and make false statements. Sentencing was scheduled for November 10.

Diveroli’s Miami Beach-based company, AEY Inc, held a $298 million Pentagon contract to supply munitions to the Afghan government. The contract barred the company from shipping ammunition acquired directly or indirectly from a “Communist Chinese military company.”

Diveroli admitted in a plea deal signed in June that he bought ammunition made in Chinese factories between 1958 and 1974 from a military export company in Albania, according to the plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Miami on Friday.

Diveroli and his associates knew the ammunition would violate AEY’s agreement with the Pentagon so they removed it from wooden crates and metal tins bearing Chinese markings and repacked it in cardboard boxes, the plea agreement said.

AEY delivered 90 million rounds of Chinese-made ammunition, Diveroli falsely certified that it conformed to terms of his contract and the Army paid $10.3 million into AEY accounts, the agreement said.

The Pentagon said last year it had suspended AEY from all federal contracting work.

At the time a Pentagon spokesman said there had been no reports of safety problems with the decades-old ammunition but that could have been because it might not have been distributed to soldiers because of its condition. Ammunition becomes less reliable and less accurate as it ages.

The dozens of charges dropped included fraud, making false statements and wire fraud.

Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Jane Sutton and Bill Trott

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