An Agoura man carrying boxes of technical manuals for fighter-bombers was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport after authorities concluded that he was taking the manuals to South Africa in violation of a U.S. arms embargo, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in Los Angeles Federal Court.
Edward James Bush, 51, was arraigned Monday on charges of violating the federal Arms Export Control Act. If convicted, he could be fined $1 million and sentenced to 10 years in prison for each count.
A U.S. State Department official said any published material with possible military application is banned from export to South Africa.
Bush was allegedly working as a private consultant for Newport Aeronautical Sales, a Costa Mesa-based firm specializing in selling non-classified military data to prospective government contractors, according to the complaint.
Prosecutors allege that export licenses were required to take the General Electric Co. engine generator manuals out of the U.S. Agents seized technical manuals for generators used with GE's J-79 jet engines, designed for F-4, F-16 and F-104 fighter aircraft, the complaint said.
U.S. Customs Service agents arrested Bush on Friday afternoon as he was about to board a flight to Miami with connections to Buenos Aires, Argentina. The complaint alleges that Bush told customs agents he planned to meet with representatives of the Argentine air force to discuss an "upcoming contract."
Bush also had airline tickets for Johannesburg, South Africa, according to the complaint.
FBI and customs agents obtained a search warrant for Newport Aeronautical's offices and the home of its president, George M. Posey III, and agents raided the office and home on Saturday, but specific details of what was found remain sealed in federal court.
Posey said Bush was not an employee, but he declined to say what, if any, relationship Bush had with the family-owned firm.
"It's really no big deal," Posey said Monday. "I've never exported anything that was export-controlled by the government without proper documentation."
Bush is being held at Terminal Island Federal Prison until a bail hearing Thursday.