Knoxville, Tennessee federal criminal defense lawyers won't often deal with violations of 22 U.S.C. § 2778, which is commonly referred to as the Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The AECA provides the federal government with authority to control the export of defense articles and services.
Earlier this week, Jerome Pendzich of Hampton, Tennessee, pleaded guilty to violating the AECA here in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. According to an article by Jamie Satterfield in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) officials searched the internet to find sellers who were selling munitions and other weaponry which violated the AECA. ICE officials found Pendzich on Ebay offering "worldwide shipment" of a type of body armor which is governed by the AECA.
Federal agents set up a sting as they pretended to be customers from Bogota, Colombia. Pendzich mailed prohibited items to Colombia and labeled them as "gifts" and "ceramic plates." ICE agents raided Penzich's home in 2009, and he ultimately admitted that he knew his actions were illegal. Penzich has not yet been sentenced.
Violation of the AECA is governed in part by the United States Sentencing Guidelines Section 2M5.2. This section of the Guidelines provides a base offense level of 26 (which would be 63-78 months of imprisonment for Category I offenders) or a level of 14 if the offense involved only non-fully automatic small arms, and the number of weapons did not exceed ten. Level 14 provides a range of punishment of 15-21 months for Category I offenders. However, a downward departure from these ranges of punishments may be in order if the offense did not have the potential to be harmful to a security or foreign policy interest of the United States, as was the case with Pendzich.