Feds knock; a business is lost

That further irritated Johnson. The "court can only surmise from the government's vigorous resistance to the possibility that it might have to disclose something about the prosecution of the defendants and its unusual actions while Judge Johnson was outside the country that 'something is rotten in the state of Denmark,' " she wrote.

Meanwhile, the Army no longer buys the Black Hawk parts from Axion for $2,680 apiece. Instead, it paid other companies $4,000 to $5,800, Latifi says. "They were trying to put me in jail for … the rest of my life — for making better parts!" he says. The Army declined to say how much it pays.

Latifi has yet to shake off the memory of his ordeal. Axion has submitted bids on "30 or 40" procurements this year, he says, but has nothing to show for it. On a couple of occasions, as he's returned from trips abroad, he says he's been taken aside at customs for prolonged questioning. Beth, an Alabama native, is openly bitter about her husband's treatment. Daughter Alexis, 22, was so affected by her father's experience that she abandoned medical school in favor of studying constitutional law.

His plans to leave a profitable company to his son are in ruins, and he remains haunted by the shame of having lived for years under a cloud. "A lot of people didn't know how to act," he says. "I assume because I am a Persian, they would say, 'Ah, that's how he makes money. He cheats.' "

But now that a judge has thrown out the charges, he hopes they think something else, something like: "This guy wasn't guilty. He was abused."

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