SANTA ANA, California – A Dana Point man has been charged in a recently unsealed indictment with participating in a conspiracy to procure and illegally ship export-controlled computer servers to Iran.
Johnny Paul Tourino, 64, was named in a 23-count grand jury indictment filed on March 7 and unsealed by a federal judge on August 17. Federal prosecutors today learned that the case had been unsealed.
The indictment accuses Tourino and Spectra Equipment, Inc., which Tourino owned and operated, with violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), which controls and restricts the export of certain goods from the United States to foreign nations. Tourino and Spectra are also charged with conspiracy, smuggling goods out of the United States and money laundering.
According to the indictment, from January 2014 through July 2017, Tourino, Spectra, and at least two others purchased and sent computer servers to Iran without obtaining licenses from the U.S. government that are required under IEEPA. The computer servers were dual-use commercial goods, meaning they had both a commercial application and a military or strategic one. The computers were controlled by the Commerce Control List for anti-terrorism and national security reasons.
Tourino allegedly falsely told the manufacturer that the computer servers were intended for Kuwait and Slovenia, when he knew they were intended for Bank Mellat, an Iranian financial institution. On one occasion, according to the indictment, Tourino forwarded an email to the manufacturer after removing references to “Tehran” and “Iran.”
Under IEEPA, it is a crime to willfully export or attempt to export items to Iran without a license from the U.S. government. These are items authorities have determined could be detrimental to regional stability and national security.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.
Tourino was arrested in this case on February 7 and was released on bond. Following the indictment, he was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on March 12. A trial is currently scheduled for March 5, 2019.
If convicted of the 23 charges in the indictment, Tourino would face up to a statutory maximum sentence of 430 years in prison, and Spectra would face fines that could total as much as $13.25 million.
This case is the result of an ongoing investigation being conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Export Enforcement, and IRS Criminal Investigation.
The case against Tourino is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark Takla of the Terrorism and Export Crimes Section.