Crime - Sacto 911

Send Russian tank helmets to Iran? Not a great idea, feds say

Russian troops march during a rehearsal in 2019. A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted Dariush Niknia of Elk Grove and Richard Lant of Las Vegas on charges that they conspired to ship hundreds of Russian-made tank helmets to Iran in violation of the United States embargo in 2015.
Russian troops march during a rehearsal in 2019. A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted Dariush Niknia of Elk Grove and Richard Lant of Las Vegas on charges that they conspired to ship hundreds of Russian-made tank helmets to Iran in violation of the United States embargo in 2015. AP

A federal grand jury in Sacramento has indicted an Elk Grove man on charges that he conspired to ship Russian-made tank helmets to Iran in violation of the United States embargo.

Dariush Niknia, 56, was indicted along with Las Vegas, Nevada, resident Richard Lant, 74, on charges of conspiracy to violate the embargo on Iran by trying to sell hundreds of tank helmets to the Iranian government in 2015.

The indictment, which was unsealed in Sacramento federal court Thursday, says Niknia received an email in Farsi on May 1, 2015, inquiring about the purchase of 500 tank helmets.

Niknia then contacted Lant by email inquiring about a purchase for pickup of the helmets in Tehran, Russia or Turkey, the indictment says, and Lant forwarded the request to “friends in Russia to see what the best deal we can get.”

By May 31, 2015, Niknia had set up a PayPal account to pay Lant $75 to ship a sample tank helmet to Iran from Russia, the indictment says.

Unfortunately, the sample sent to the buyer was the wrong helmet, the indictment says.

“They got the sample but it’s the wrong one,” Niknia wrote Lant in an email, the indictment says.

Ultimately, the deal could not be consummated because the “associate in Moscow” could not produce such a large quantity of helmets, the indictment says.

The two men could face 20 years in prison and fines of $1 million if convicted.

Sam Stanton has worked for The Bee since 1991 and has covered a variety of issues, including politics, criminal justice and breaking news.
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