July 05, 2012
The owner of a Florida company pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges he illegally exported aircraft parts to Venezuela’s military in a probe that has also led to charges against a former Venezuelan Air Force officer and two other men.
Kirk Drellich, president of SkyHigh Accessories, Inc., based in Davie, Florida, faces up to five years in jail and a fine of $250,000 if found guilty.
U.S. prosecutors in Miami charged Drellich and the three others in late June for their alleged involvement in the illegal shipment of military aircraft parts to the Venezuelan Air Force.
The parts included pressure switches and cooling turbines among other material that U.S. officials said was intended for Venezuelan F-16 fighter jets, helicopters and other military aircraft, according to court documents.
Drellich delivered his plea during an initial court appearance in Miami.
Alberto Pichardo, a former Venezuelan Air Force officer once responsible for oversight at Venezuela’s now-defunct Military Acquisitions Office in Miami, has also been charged, along with Freddy Arguelles, a former Venezuelan Air Force pilot, and Victor Brown, a Miami area businessman.
All of the men live in South Florida.
The men face charges of conspiring to violate the Arms Export Control Act, which requires a special State Department export license to export any goods listed on the United States Munitions List.