The former owner and chief executive of a California-based military contractor has been arrested for allegedly breaking federal export laws by transferring sensitive U.S. technology to countries such as China.
The 77-year-old Joe Sery, who used to run Tungsten Heavy Powder & Parts (Tungsten Parts), has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of “knowingly and willfully” exporting military intelligence, including data and drawings, to China and India without U.S. approval, the Justice Department announced on March 5.
The San Diego-based company supplies fragments and weapon-grade components made of tungsten, a rare metal, to the military.
Prosecutors have identified Sery’s 70-year-old brother, Dror Sery, a dual citizen of Israel and South Africa, as a co-conspirator. An arrest warrant has been issued for the man, who remains a fugitive and is believed to be living in Israel.
The brothers allegedly created a non-company email to secretly access the sensitive documents from Tungsten Parts’ system, to which Dror Sery was then given full access. The two then exported the sensitive technical drawings by email when Dror was in India and China, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
It’s unlawful to transfer data, goods, and services that are designated as defenseitems out of the United States without a license, or to release such technical data to a foreign individual in the United States, according to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. If convicted, violators face a maximum penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Tungsten Parts entered into contracts with multiple aerospace and defense companies from 2016 to 2019 to work on projects involving the construction of an advanced rapid response weapon, a 155-millimeter by-modal warhead, a R9E warhead, and an 81-millimeter cowling cone, prosecutors said.