Man pleads guilty to shipping equipment to Syria

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Posted at 8:16 PM, Sep 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-16 17:48:40-04

SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania businessman has acknowledged conspiring to illegally export chemical warfare detection devices and lab equipment to Syria.

Harold Rinko pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Scranton. He faces up to five years in prison.

Sanctions imposed by the U.S. in 2004 banned all exports to Syria, except food and medicine. But authorities allege Rinko and two foreign citizens shipped goods to Syria through other countries for nine years.

Prosecutors say Rinko, of Hallstead, used his company as a front to acquire instruments that detect and classify chemical weapons.

The three men were charged in 2012. The status of the other two defendants was not immediately clear.

Investigators don't know who ultimately used the equipment in Syria, which is now engulfed in a multilayered civil war.