U.S. company accused of exporting military tech

Colorado optics firm allegedly sold defense instruments to South Korea, China, Russia and Turkey

Published March 18, 2010 12:42PM (EDT)

A U.S. company is accused of illegally exporting defense technology used by the U.S. military to South Korea, China, Russia and Turkey, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Rocky Mountain Instrument Co., based in Colorado, said it is working toward a plea agreement with prosecutors and that it has been cooperating with investigators for more than two years.

Prosecutors allege that RMI, which manufactures optics components, exported prisms and technical data for optics used in military applications to the four countries from April 1, 2005, to Oct. 11, 2007. They say RMI did so without permission from the U.S. Department of State.

Federal officials did not elaborate what the technology was used for. U.S. District Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner declined to comment on whether the alleged crime compromised national security.

Prosecutors said the company will be forced to forfeit $1 million if convicted of a charge of knowingly and willfully exporting defense articles without a license. The amount represents the money the company obtained through the alleged offense.

RMI spokeswoman Tricia Heller said the company expects to reach a plea agreement within the next 45 days. She said she couldn't comment on whether the plea would include any admission of wrongdoing.

The case was investigated by the U.S. Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which probes terrorism matters and the illegal transfer of defense technologies to proscribed countries, according to the agency's Web site. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was also involved in the investigation.

By Ivan Moreno

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