Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

A former executive at a Sorrento Valley company with defense contracts pleaded guilty Thursday to unlawfully sending sensitive information to foreign countries.

Joe Sery, 77, the former CEO and owner of Tungsten Heavy Powder & Parts, which manufactures and supplies products used in U.S. military applications and munitions, pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge.

He provided technical data regarding munitions to his brother, who in turn took the data to China, India and other countries “at Sery’s direction,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Sery would have to obtain a valid license or approval from the U.S. State Department before exporting such defense articles, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

His plea agreement outlined that he was trained on U.S. export control laws, which prohibit the unlicensed export of items and data contained on the U.S. Munitions List.

“As CEO of a company with multiple defense contracts, Sery was entrusted with controlled information that he knew he had to protect, yet he completely disregarded security regulations and allowed sensitive data to be sent to China, India and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “He is now being held accountable.”

In a separate case, the company also agreed last year to pay more than $5.6 million to resolve allegations that it falsely claimed its product materials were sourced and manufactured in the U.S.

– City News Service

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Ellen Bullock