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Two who sought to ship aircraft to Iran plead guilty

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — An Iranian national and an American citizen who worked as an airline pilot pleaded guilty Monday to charges they plotted to ship helicopters and aircraft parts for Iran’s state-run civilian airline, in violation of the US trade embargo.

Their scheme, hatched in 2007 and continued until 2011, was foiled before the defendants arranged any deliveries, federal authorities said. The men had hoped to make millions by selling the parts to Iran Air, which is owned by the country’s government, authorities said.

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None of the parts or aircraft was intended for the military, prosecutors said.

Last year, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Iran Air for providing material support and services to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to federal prosecutors.

US Attorney David J. Hale commended the FBI for its work disrupting the scheme.

The defendants were identified as Hamid Asefi, a 68-year-old Iranian citizen, and Behzad ‘‘Tony’’ Karimian, 53, a US citizen living in Louisville who holds a valid Iranian passport and has worked as a pilot for the now-defunct Mesaba Airlines, which had been based in Minneapolis.

They were charged with violating and conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act for exporting, selling, or causing the export or sale of aircraft and aircraft parts in violation of US trade sanctions against Iran.

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