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Press Release

Italian National Sentenced to 11 Months in Prison for Illegally Exporting and Attempting to Export Military Technology

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Defendant, a Member of the Italian Armed Services, Illegally Exported Night Vision Goggles and Assault Rifle Parts from the U.S. to Italy

Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Giovanni Zannoni, an Italian national and member of the Italian armed services, was sentenced by United States District Judge Pamela K. Chen to 11 months’ imprisonment for illegally exporting and attempting to export controlled military technology from the United States to Italy.  Zannoni previously pled guilty to the sole count of the information on December 21, 2017.  Zannoni was also ordered to forfeit gun parts, night vision goggles and thermal imaging devices, including an Army/Navy PVS-7D night vision goggle, a mini thermal monocular, numerous parts and magazines for AR-15 and M4 semi-automatic assault rifles and image intensifiers.  As part of his plea agreement, Zannoni also agreed to forfeit $436,673.73.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sentencing.  Mr. Donoghue thanked the Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Northeast Field Office (DCIS), and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), New York, for their hard work and dedication over the course of this investigation and prosecution.

According to court filings, between June 2013 and May 2017, Zannoni illegally exported and attempted to export night vision goggles and assault rifle components that have been designated as defense articles on the United States Munitions List.  To lawfully export these devices, the United States Department of State requires the obtaining of a license because these items make a significant contribution to the military potential and weapons proliferation by other nations, which could be detrimental to the foreign policy and national security of the United States.  

To carry out this scheme, the defendant purchased export-controlled devices from U.S.-based manufacturers or distributors or through Internet-based marketplaces like  Zannoni then directed the sellers of the export-controlled products to ship them to freight forwarders in the United States, and made false statements to the freight forwarders about the contents and values of the packages, so that the packages would be exported to Italy without the required licenses.  Records show that the defendant purchased approximately 2,700 night vision or thermal imaging devices, image intensifiers and pieces of body armor, and that he paid approximately $530,000 for these export-controlled devices between June 2013 and May 2017. 

The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section.  Assistant United States Attorney Nomi D. Berenson is in charge of the prosecution, with assistance from Trial Attorney Matthew Walczewski of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

The Defendant:

Age:  35
Residence: Gavorrano, Italy

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 17-CR-565 (PKC)


John Marzulli
Tyler Daniels
United States Attorney’s Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated July 29, 2022

Export Control