Retired University of Tennessee Professor Convicted of Arms Export Violations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – On Sept. 3, 2008, a federal jury convicted retired University of Tennessee professor Dr. J. Reece Roth, after a seven day trial, of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act together with 15 separate illegal exports of 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. The illegal arms control 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 also convicted of 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.

Dr. Roth was convicted of conspiring with Atmospheric Glow Technology, Inc., a Knoxville, Tennessee, technology company, with unlawfully exporting in 2005 and 2006 15 different “defense articles” to a citizen of the People’s Republic of China in violation of the Arms Export Control Act. This law prohibits the export of defense-related materials, including the technical data, to a foreign national or a foreign nation. The illegal exports by Dr. Roth related to technical data and information that was developed through a U.S. Air Force research and development contract.

The maximum punishment for the conspiracy conviction is five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. The maximum penalty for each of the Arms Export Control Act offenses is 10 years imprisonment, a criminal fine of $1 million and a mandatory special assessment of $100 for each offense. Dr. Roth’s sentencing has been set for Jan. 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 was the result of an ongoing investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Air Force, Office of Special Investigations, Bureau of 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.

For additional information, please contact United States Attorney Russ Dedrick, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Mackie or Public Information Officer Sharry Dedman-Beard at 865-545-4167.


DOJ Sept. 3, 2008 press release

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