A Louisiana couple convicted of illegally exporting oil field equipment to Libya were both sentenced Wednesday to one year and a day in prison and fined $25,000.
U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster ordered George Smith, 50, and his wife Cheryl, 37, freed on $100,000 bond each pending the outcome of their appeal. They were expected to be released Wednesday night.
The Smiths have been in custody since Dec. 4, when a jury found them guilty of an 11-count federal indictment that included charges of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government through the illegal export of goods, and making false statements to conceal the exports. The Smiths and a Scottish accomplice are the only people ever charged with violating an embargo on trade with Libya.
Brewster also gave each a 30-year suspended sentence and ordered that their one-year terms be served at different times so that one of them will be at home to care for Cheryl Smith's 17-year-old son from a previous marriage.
"These individuals turned their backs on their country and they did it knowingly," said Asst. U.S. Atty. Phillip L. B. Halpern, who prosecuted the case. "They were dealing with Libya, which is in violation of U.S. policy. They did it for great sums of money."
Cheryl Smith hung her head and cried throughout the proceeding, which lasted for more than an hour. A pre-sentence report prepared by the government had recommended that she be sent to prison for 10 years and her husband for 8.
Her lawyer, Judy Clarke, argued that Cheryl Smith was poor, uneducated and had "struggled all her life." She become involved in the transaction because she was "seeking the security of things she never had," Clarke said. The Smiths actually made less than $20,000 on the deal, Clarke said.