Stroudsburg man Ross Roggio, 49, and his company Roggio Consulting Co. were indicted by a federal grand jury on Friday, March 23 for charges including illegal export of goods, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. If Roggio is convicted, he could face a maximum of 705 years in prison.
The crimes with which Roggio is charged violate both the U.S. International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the U.S. Arms Export Control Act. Specifically, WFMZ notes that Roggio is alleged to have “purchased firearms parts and manufacturing tools and illegally exported the items to Iraq where they were used in the assembly of complete firearms in a firearms manufacturing plant operated in part by Roggio.”
The region in Iraq the exports allegedly took place in is Kurdistan. According to Morning Call reporter Frank Warner, “Since 2005, Kurdistan has been run fairly independently of Iraq’s central government, but the Kurds have had conflicts with their neighbors, particularly in Turkey and Syria. The indictment says Roggio privately proposed helping to arm the Kurds as early as 2010.”
Money transfers from Iraq to Roggio’s Wells Fargo and PNC bank accounts from September 2014 to July 2016 amounted to $6,013,214.13. Pocono Record writer Andrew Scott notes that authorities believe, “These accounts hid the nature, location, source, ownership or control of the wire-transfer proceeds, which Roggio used to continue and benefit from his illegal export/consulting activities via property purchases and improvements.”
Purchases made by Roggio between 2015 and 2017 include a 2015 Mercedes, 2015 BMW, 2016 McLaren, four Rolex watches and his residence in Hamilton Township along with its $290, 765 garage renovation. The indictment notes that the government is currently seeking forfeiture for the previously mentioned properties along with Roggio’s bank accounts. In June 2017, Scott writes, “Authorities filed to stay the government forfeiture, until after the investigation’s completion, so that the forfeiture wouldn’t affect the investigation.”
Warner said, “Among the items illegally exported from 2013 to 2017, the indictment says, were M4 rifle bolt gas rings, firing pin retainers, rifling combo buttons and “defense services”—assistance in firearm manufacturing.”
The export of these items would have required governmental approval. However, the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security conducted a check on Sept. 6, 2016 which found that the accused parties had never even applied for any export licenses. Within the indictment, the U.S State Department said the following: “It was an object of the conspiracy to construct and operate a factory in Iraq for the purpose of manufacturing and assembling fully automatic, less than .50 caliber rifles and carbines without the required license of written approval.”
U.S. Attorney David J. Freed said, “The conduct alleged in this indictment directly violates laws enacted to keep our nation secure. We will not allow anyone to put profits above our security, at home or abroad.”
The indictment mentions that Roggio had co-conspirators. Though they are not listed by name, Scott notes the document says that, “Roggio fraudulently obtained these gun parts by lying to U.S. suppliers about whom the parts were for.”
As of now, it is still unclear whether Roggio will plead guilty to these crimes.
Halle Nelson is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies with minors in deaf studies and English literature. ✉ HN824858@wcupa.edu.