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False documents and statements, misleading repackaging and secret international payments could not cover up the illegal smuggling of highly-controlled electronics used in space programs, according to federal prosecutors.

Peter Zuccarelli, a 62-year-old from Plano, Tex., was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to smuggling radiation-hardened integrated circuits from American manufacturers to China and Russia, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

Zucccarelli admitted to buying the microchips from two companies in the United States while working with a co-conspirator in Colorado.

Between June 2015 and March 2016, the co-conspirator put $1.57 million in a bank account controlled by Zuccarelli to pay for the RHICs, which are radiation resistant and therefore at use in space programs and nuclear research.

The co-conspirator, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, identified the customers in the Chinese and Russian space programs—and then linked them with Zuccarelli, according to the court documents. Zuccarelli, whose company American Coating Technologies makes eyeglass lenses, certified that he would be the end users of the parts. But he then took the microchips out of the packaging, put them in other containers and labeled them as “touch screen parts” before shipping them to Asia.

Zuccarelli signed the plea agreement with authorities last June in which he admitted violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. 

Besides the almost four years behind bars, Zuccarelli will also have three years of supervised release and a $50,000 fine.

Before the conspiracy, Zuccarelli’s companies had filed for bankruptcies and faced lawsuits and court judgements, according to local media accounts.

The agencies involved included the Department of Homeland Security’s Denver and Dallas offices, as well as the FBI, the Department of Defense and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. The prosecutors were from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas and the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section of the DOJ’s National Security Division.

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