A little over five years ago, we reported on a settlement agreement pursuant to which Air Shunt, Inc., agreed to pay DDTC a penalty of $100,000 in connection with three unlicensed exports of military aircraft parts. These same three violations were alleged in an indictment of an Air Shunt Vice-President, John Nakkashian, who was at the time of the settlement nowhere to be found and presumed to be a “fugitive from justice.”
For reasons not entirely clear, Nakkashian was arrested in June of this year by ICE agents at the Los Angeles International Airport. I suspect that this was not because Nakkashian was trying to sneak back into the country to vacation at Disneyland. More likely it was part of a carefully negotiated deal, because Nakkashian and the prosecutors just submitted a plea agreement to the court under which Nakkashian pleaded to one false statement count (18 U.S.C. § 1001) in connection with one of the three illegal exports set forth in the original indictment. The false statement at issue was Nakkashian’s statement in the export documents that no license was required for the export. The government, in return, agrees to a base offense level of 8 under the Sentencing Guidelines which would mean, if Nakkashian has no prior criminal history, a sentence of zero to six months. Compare this to the original indictment where each of the three counts had a base offense level of 26, meaning a sentence of at least 63-78 months for a defendant with no prior criminal history.
That’s a sweet deal and you have to wonder how a former “fugitive from justice” got this deal until you realize that Armenia, which is where we suspected Mr. Nakkashian (by virtue of his surname) was hiding out, has no extradition treaty with the United States. Moreover, given that this was not a crime of violence, it is unlikely that Armenia would voluntarily cooperate in returning Mr. Nakkashian to the United States for trial. That gave Nakkashian a potent bargaining chip which it would seem he used to maximum benefit with the U.S. preferring to impose some penalty rather than none at all.