PITTSBURGH - A Pittsburgh man pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of smuggling goods from the United States, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
Tarek Mohamed Chok pleaded guilty yesterday to one count before Senior United States District Judge Maurice B. Cohill.
In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on or about Sept. 18, 2012, Chok shipped a Springfield, Model 1911, .45 caliber pistol via FedEx from Pittsburgh, Pa., to Lebanon. The package containing the firearm was intercepted in Dubai. On the shipping declaration, Chok declared the contents of the package to be a “car lock, keys, and student documents.” When approached by agents of the Department of Homeland Security about his shipment, Chok initially lied and stated that the firearm in question, which records indicate was purchased by him, was “stolen” from him. Eventually, Chok admitted that he had, in fact, sent the firearm via FedEx, that he had lied to agents about it, and he misrepresented the contents of the package because he believed that if he had listed the true contents of the package, FedEx would not have sent the package.
Judge Cohill scheduled sentencing for Oct. 28, 2014, at 2:30 p.m. The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.
Pending sentencing, the court continued Chok on bond.
Assistant United States Attorney James T. Kitchen is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.
The Department of Homeland Security conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Chok.