After answering a Craigslist ad asking for assistance in exporting material commonly used in nuclear engineering to Iran, a Bronx man with a lengthy criminal record was sentenced to 92 months in prison in Brooklyn federal court on Thursday.
“I answered an ad on Craigslist -- I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” Richard Phillips, 54, told the court. “If I buy Cuban cigars, I’m facing the same thing...I’m asking for leniency.”
Editor's Note: This story contains graphic language that some readers may find offensive.
Phillips pleaded guilty in January to attempting to export carbon fiber to Iran, violating a national trade embargo. Phillips answered an online advertisement placed by federal investigators, prosecutors said, asking for assistance in exporting a spool of the specialized wire to Tehran, Iran, via the Philippines. Prosecutors said Phillips ignored the national embargo -- and national security -- out of greed.
“I know what the rules are…I could give a fuck about what they say about what we can ship somewhere else,” Phillips said in a recorded phone conversation with an undercover agent.
Dressed in a beige jumpsuit, Phillips twiddled his thumbs throughout the proceeding. He and his lawyer stressed Phillips did not intend for the materials to be used to hurt the American people.
Gesturing to his client, defense attorney Florian Miedel said that his client “couldn’t care less about Iran.”
“It appears he doesn’t care about the United States, either,” District Judge Sandra Townes said. “Much is said about the fact that the defendant says I don’t want to hurt anybody…I wonder whether you really meant it, anyway,” she told Phillips.