LOS ANGELES (Mar. 2)
The United States is holding an Israeli businessman on charges that he tried to smuggle missile parts into the United States without declaring their proper value and contents to U.S. Customs inspectors.
David Menashe, 52, managing director of Kam-Tech Systems Ltd. in Tel Aviv, intended to ship the parts to China before his arrest in an undercover operation, according to Mary Carter Andrues, a U.S. assistant attorney.
His lawyer, Donald Etra, said Menashe was innocent of all charges and was a respected member of the Israeli and international business communities.
Menashe was arrested Feb. 12 in Los Angeles and pleaded not guilty on Feb. 18. His trial is scheduled for April 8. He is being held in lieu of a $750,000 bond, which, Etra said, will be posted shortly.
According to the four-count indictment, Menashe and his company tried to smuggle Hawk Missile and AIM-9 Missile parts into the United States “by falsely representing the value and contents of the packages to avoid detection by customs inspectors.”
He disguised the missile parts as “Samples for Evaluation” and undervalued one shipment of an AIM-9 Seeker Section by more than $19,000, the government charged.
Etra was asked why Menashe would want to ship American-made missile parts back into the United States.
He responded that as a seller of surplus parts, Menashe could frequently offer such parts more cheaply to the U.S. military than the original manufacturer.
Kam-Tech Systems, Etra said, was established in 1971 and is licensed in both Israel and the United States.
Andrues, the prosecuting attorney, said importing the parts into the United States was not in itself an illegal act. Where Menashe ran afoul of the law, she said, was in not declaring their true value and contents and in planning to ship them to China.
Menashe’s wife, Mathilde, and daughter Revital have arrived in Los Angeles from Tel Aviv to lend their moral support. The Menashes have another daughter and son.
If convicted, Menashe could face up to five years in prison on each of the four counts.