- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

A South Korean national pleaded guilty yesterday to violating the Arms Export Control Act and conspiracy charges in connection with his effort to obtain military engines for Black Hawk helicopters, as well as other military items, and divert them to China.

Kwonhwan Park, also known as Howard Park, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz in New Haven, Conn., as part of an agreement with federal prosecutors, said U.S. Attorney Kevin J. O’Connor.

Park was the target of a two-year undercover investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS). He and his Malaysian company, SGS, attempted to purchase Black Hawk military helicopter engines from Helicopter Support International, a company affiliated with Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Conn., authorities said.

ICE spokesman Dean Boyd said throughout 2001, Park and others provided documents to the State Department asserting that the engines, worth more than $1 million each, were bound for the Malaysian army or the South Korean army. He said Park and SGS submitted sworn end-user certificates, with signatures from purported Malaysian and South Korean military officials, stating the engines were for use by the Malaysian military and South Korean army.

Mr. Boyd said ICE agents in New Haven and overseas later confirmed that the signatures were fraudulent and that two engines shipped on April 8, 2002, to Malaysia were later diverted to China.

He said as the investigation continued, Park and his associates attempted to obtain four additional engines for the S70 Sikorsky military helicopter.

Mr. Boyd said that earlier this year, ICE agents were alerted on short notice that Park intended to enter the United States through San Francisco on March 27. They tracked his movements and intercepted him April 1 at Washington Dulles International Airport attempting to depart the United States on a plane bound for Beijing.

He said an inspection of Park’s luggage confirmed he had in his possession a sophisticated night-vision goggle system manufactured by a San Francisco corporation. The system is a military item controlled for export.

Sentencing in the case has been set for Jan. 28. Park faces 10 years in prison on the illegal-export charge and five years on the conspiracy charge. He also faces $2.5 million in fines.

“This type of prosecution requires the tremendous skill of our federal investigative partners, and great cooperation from the many defense contractors here in Connecticut,” Mr. O’Connor said. “We will continue to work diligently in order to prevent the illegal export of sensitive military technology.”

Mr. O’Connor also said the U.S. government worked closely with South Korean officials in the investigation and that Yung Jean Sohn, a former South Korean military official and an officer with SGS — who with Park signed some of the documentation submitted to the State Department — was prosecuted in South Korea.

Yung pleaded guilty to forgery of official documents and received an eight-month prison sentence.

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