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Feds: Pensacola man indicted on charges of doing business with Iran

North Florida’s top federal prosecutor on Monday announced the indictment of a Pensacola man on charges he planned to sell power generating equipment to an Iranian concern, which is against federal law. 

James P. Meharg, 59, CEO and president of Turbine Resources International, “conspired with citizens of the United Kingdom and Iran to export a large turbine and parts to an Iranian recipient, in violation of the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations as well as federal criminal law,” a press release said. 

“The security of the United States depends on protecting our nation from threats, whether those threats originate with foreign nationals or with American citizens who put their own profits ahead of the national interest,” U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe of the Northern District of Florida said in a statement.

“For decades, American presidents have declared the government of Iran to be a threat to our national security and thereby imposed sanctions, and this office is deeply committed to protecting the integrity of the United States in all ways,” he added. 

A federal grand jury found that Meharg conspired to sell and export the power generating equipment and conceal the scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Meharg also arranged for payments to be routed to him through another foreign country.

Meharg, a U.S. citizen, “conspired from October 1, 2017, to June 12, 2019, to violate embargo by attempting to export a Solar Mars 90 S turbine core engine and parts from the United States, for delivery to an end user in Iran,” the release said.

“On April 25, 2018, the indictment alleges, Meharg sent an invoice for $500,000 to a conspirator in the United Kingdom and received two partial payments of $124,950 each, on May 7 and May 24, 2018, at least one of which was routed through a company in Dubai.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney David L. Goldberg, a National Security Cyber Specialist, is prosecuting the case following a joint investigation by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry & Security and the FBI, the government said. 

Meharg faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment each for the charges related to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and money laundering, and he faces up to 5 years’ imprisonment each for the conspiracy and filing false paperwork charges, according to Keefe. 

He has a jury trial currently set for Sept. 3 in Pensacola, before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, court dockets show. He has pleaded not guilty on all counts. Meharg is represented by attorney Chris Crawford of Pensacola.

The latest case follows a similar one announced last week in New York, in which Mahin Mojtahedzadeh, a 74-year-old citizen of Iran, pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiring to unlawfully export gas turbine parts from the United States to Iran.

She admitted that from 2013 through 2017, she worked with companies in Canada and Germany to violate and evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, by having these companies first acquire more than $3 million dollars’ worth of turbine parts from two distributors in Saratoga County, New York, then plan to export them to Iran, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice. 

The indictment announced Monday is below.

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