Industry News

arbon Fiber Merchant Gets 3 Months For China Export

Law360, New York (November 26, 2013, 7:46 PM EST) -- A carbon fiber seller was sentenced in New York federal court Tuesday to three months in prison for shipping restricted carbon fiber to China without a license. 
Peter Gromacki, 54, was also ordered to pay about $140,000 in fines and penalties, and to serve three years probation after his release from prison. U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos imposed the sentence at a hearing in Manhattan federal court.

Gromacki pled guilty in July to three counts related to his export of carbon fiber to companies in China. Federal prosecutors say he shipped the material, which can be used in the production of nuclear devices, via Belgium to avoid export restrictions.

Judge Ramos said Gromacki received a relatively low sentence because shipping carbon fiber to China is legal if the shipper is licensed, and there was no indication the carbon fiber was ever used for something that could harm U.S. national security.

"At the end of the day, even though I do find this is a very serious offense, I am not left the understanding that national security was compromised," Judge Ramos said.

Gromacki, who works for the carbon fiber company SGL Group, argued that the material he exported is routinely shipped from the U.S. to China, and is used in building construction and to make sports gear.

The shipment, arranged in June 2007, was about 6,000 pounds of carbon fiber. Gromacki lied on the export declaration form about the final destination for the shipment and whether it required an export license, according to prosecutors.

The carbon fiber was worth about $135,000 and the sale earned Gromacki only about $3,500 in profit, his lawyer, Andrew A. Rubin of Mancuso Rubin & Fufidio said.

Gromacki's penalty includes a requirement that he forfeit the $135,000 and pay a separate $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors had asked for a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison.

Gromacki’s lawyer argued he had already been punished in part after prosecutorsdisclosed his charges on the same day and in the same press release disclosing charges against others who had tried to export military-grade materials to Iran.

Gromacki was not connected to that alleged conspiracy, but an Internet search of his name suggests that he was, Rubin said.

Gromacki said he regretted his conduct in a statement made before Judge Ramos imposed the sentence.

"The illegal exportation of carbon fiber without the requirement licensing was wrnog and it was the result of my bad judgment, which I regret," he said. “I never intended to put my country in harm’s way.”
 
Judge Ramos ordered Gromacki, who is free on bail, to surrender within six weeks to begin serving his sentence.

Gromacki is represented by Andrew A. Rubin of Mancuso Rubin & Fufidio.

The case is U.S. v. Gromacki, case number 1:12-cr-00302, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

--Editing by John Quinn.