KNOXVILLE - On Wednesday, September 3, 2008, a federal jury convicted retired University of Tennessee professor Dr. J. Reece Roth, after a seven day trial, of illegally exporting military technical information relating to plasma technology designed to be deployed on the wings of drones operating as a weapons or surveillance systems.
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 U.S. government license. The illegal arms exports by Dr. Roth related to technical data and information that was developed through a U.S. Air Force research and development contract to develop this advanced form of a drone.
Dr. Roth was specifically convicted of one count of conspiring with Atmospheric Glow Technology, Inc., a Knoxville, Tennessee, technology company, to unlawfully export in 2005 and 2006 fifteen different "defense articles" to a citizen of the People’s Republic of China in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. He was also convicted of 15 counts of violating the Arms Export Control Act and one count of wire fraud relating to defrauding the University of Tennessee of the honest services by illegally exporting sensitive military information relating to this U.S. Air Force contract.
The maximum punishment for the conspiracy conviction is five (5) years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for each of the Arms Export Control Act offenses is ten (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 United States District Court in Knoxville.
"Today's guilty verdict should serve as a warning to anyone who knowingly discloses restricted U.S. military data to foreign nationals. The illegal export of such sensitive data represents a very real threat to our national security, particularly when we know that foreign governments are actively seeking this information for their military development," said Patrick Rowan, Acting Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
United States Attorney Russ Dedrick said, "The strict enforcement of the export technology laws protects our country and its citizens. 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."
Dedrick praised the efforts of the investigative agencies, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys Will Mackie and Jeff Theodore, for their fine work on this investigation and prosecution of the case.
The indictment and conviction was the result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Air Force, Office of Special Investigations, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Department of Commerce Export Enforcement. Assistant United States Attorneys A. William Mackie and Jeffrey E. Theodore represented the United States.