Fraud indictment for Kern Co. Marine in sale of military gear

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A recently retired Marine in central California was arrested Monday on charges of lying to the government about the international sale of U.S. military equipment, a scheme that was discovered because some of the gear appeared on eBay.

Sean Elias Sayegh, 41, was arrested Monday by federal customs agents at his home in the Kern County city of Rosamond, after a Friday grand jury indictment on four counts of making false statements on postal customs forms, a statement from the Department of Justice said.

The indictment said that Sayegh, who until December was a Marine Corps staff sergeant at Edwards Air Force Base, claimed on forms that he was shipping camera equipment overseas when he was actually sending laser filters that are used with military night vision goggles.

The allegations involve the shipment of more than 100 of the laser light interference filters, known as LIFs in the military.

Though their function is to protect the optics inside night vision goggles from being damaged by lasers, they are classified as munitions, and the technology behind them is deemed so advanced and sensitive that the military requires that they be destroyed when their service life is over.

"These items may look innocuous, but their sophistication makes them highly sought after by our adversaries," Claude Arnold, a special agent in charge with the Department of Homeland Security, said in a statement. "They were developed to give America and its allies a strategic military advantage."

Like all items on the U.S. Munitions List, they cannot be exported without a license from the State Department.

Military investigators began an undercover probe of Sayegh after a tip about military equipment appearing on eBay, and the case was later handed over to the Department of Homeland Security when it became clear customs violations were involved.

It was not clear whether Sayegh had yet hired an attorney, and a message left at a home number listed in his name was not immediately returned.