A 34-year-old Florida man pleaded guilty late Wednesday to illegally selling night vision goggles and other military style gear online to an undercover federal agent in Baltimore pretending to be an overseas buyer — a charge that could land him in prison for 20 years.
Anthony J. Torresi, of Coral Gables, did not have the required U.S. Department of State license to sell the items when he posted them on eBay and then arranged to sell them to a buyer who he believed was in New Zealand, according to the Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office of Rod J. Rosenstein.
The buyer Torresi believed was in New Zealand was actually an agent in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations unit in Baltimore. Rosenstein's office prosecuted the case because of its origins in Maryland.
In February 2011, Torresi mailed night vision goggles valued at more than $7,000 to the agent, with a shipping label describing the package's contents as a "Rangefinder" valued at $70, according to his plea agreement. He had never applied for a license to do so.
In March 2011, he sold on eBay what he claimed was a night vision monocular worth more than $6,000 that also required a license to sell, according to the agreement. In April 2011, in response to that transaction, he mailed a $266 monocular that didn't require a license.
Because he did not have a license, Torresi's intended overseas sale of the expensive items — "designed to enable military ground troop personnel to conduct night operations" — violated the Arms Export Control Act, Rosenstein's office said.
Deterring such violations is a high priority of the HSI office in Baltimore.
"One of ICE's Homeland Security Investigations top enforcement priorities is preventing U.S. military products and sensitive technology from falling into the hands of those who might seek to harm America or its interests," said William Winter, the special agent in charge of the HSI Baltimore office, in a statement.
Torresi now faces up to 20 years in prison with five years of additional supervised release and a $1 million fine, all for the unlawful exporting of arms or munitions, officials said.
He is scheduled to be sentenced June 21.