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Press Release

Two Men Sentenced In Scam To Illegally Export Goods To Syria

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Middle District of Pennsylvania

SCRANTON - The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Harold Rinko, age 74 of Hallstead, Pennsylvania and Ahmad Feras Diri, age 43, of London, United Kingdom were sentenced by United States District Court Judge Malachy E. Mannion in Scranton for their involvement in a conspiracy to illegally export goods to Syria.

According to United States Attorney Bruce D. Brandler, Diri, age 39, of London, United Kingdom, was sentenced yesterday to a 37-month term of imprisonment, a $100 special assessment, and ordered to forfeit $45,698 to the government.  Diri was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London on March 14, 2013, and extradited to the United States on charges in the Middle District of Pennsylvania. 

On October 13, 2016, Rinko was sentenced to a term of time served, 12 months of home confinement, a fine of $2,600, a term of supervised release of 2 years, and was ordered to forfeit $45,698 to the government.

A third defendant, Moawea Deri, a citizen of Syria, remains a fugitive from justice.

Rinko operated an export business in Hallstead, Pennsylvania and conspired with Diri to ship items purchased by customers in Syria in violation of United States law. The three men conspired to export various items from the United States, through third party countries to customers in Syria.  The conspirators prepared false invoices which undervalued and mislabeled the goods being purchased and also listed false information as to the identity and geographic location of the purchasers of the goods.  The items would be shipped from the United States to Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, and thereafter transshipped to Syria.  One such item is described in communications between the conspirators as “it is a portable multi-gas scanner for the detection of chemical warfare agents.  Nerve, blood and lung warfare agents are detected using a highly sensitive ion mobility spectrometer.”      

"HSI's counter proliferation measures are in place to safeguard our borders and defend our interests across the world. The defendant's willful circumvention of those interests is inexcusable and today's sentencing is an example of the significant repercussions for such action," said Brian Michael, acting special agent in charge of HSI Philadelphia.

Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Carson, Office of Export Enforcement, New York Field Office, Bureau of Industry and Security, US Department of Commerce. "This case demonstrates the outstanding collaboration among law enforcement agencies, and I commend our colleagues at HSI and the Justice Department, as well as our counterparts in the United Kingdom, for bringing this case to a successful conclusion. Shutting down illegal and dangerous trade with anyone who would threaten our national security is the sole focus for Special Agents of the Office of Export Enforcement.  We will continue to pursue violators of our nation's export control laws wherever they are located."

The case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Commerce, Office of Export Enforcement.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd K. Hinkley and Heather Alpino, Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice, National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section prosecuted the case. 


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Updated October 26, 2016