Man gets decade in prison for Colombia rebels weapons plot

AP News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2016 6:37 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — A Romanian convicted of conspiring to sell military-grade weapons in Europe was sentenced on Friday to 10 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams imposed the sentence on 43-year-old Virgil Georgescu in Manhattan. Georgescu was arrested by Montenegrin authorities in December 2014 and was brought to the United States two months later for trial. He was convicted by a jury in May.

Georgescu was arrested in a Drug Enforcement Administration sting operation. Prosecutors said he teamed with a former Romanian government official and a former member of the Italian Parliament from May 2014 to December 2014 to try to sell an arsenal of weapons including machine guns and rocket launchers. Prosecutors said they did not know they were communicating with DEA informants who posed as associates of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the decades-old rebel group known as FARC.

Prosecutors said Georgescu was told the weapons would be used against American forces helping the Colombian government.

"Having sought to profit from the murder of U.S. officers abroad, Georgescu will now spend years in a U.S. prison," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

In court, a defense lawyer said Georgescu had served as an informant for the FBI from 2001 through 2003 and called the CIA in 2012 to report the weapons plot. He said Georgescu never intended to attack the United States.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrea Surratt told the judge that Georgescu's motive was to profit "on the backs of dead Americans."