Female Arms Trader Pleads Guilty to Iran Sales

Laura Wang-Woodford pleads guilty to arms sales; husband on run with millions.

ByABC News
March 13, 2009, 12:13 PM

March 13, 2009— -- An American woman who became a rogue weapons trader pleaded guilty in federal court today to illegally helping Iran arm itself during the last 20 years.

Laura Wang-Woodford and her fugitive husband amassed a large fortune by illegally selling embargoed weapons, technology and equipment to Iran.

Wang-Woodford, 64, entered her plea today before a federal judge in Brooklyn. She pleaded guilty to charges of violating U.S. trade embargoes by sending munitions and controlled information, including technology for American Chinook military helicopters and other aircraft.

American citizens have been banned from trading with Iran since 1979 when Iranian militants took U.S. embassy employees hostage in Tehran.

Her husband, Brian Woodford, is currently a fugitive who is believed to be in Southeast Asia, possibly Singapore.

Despite the embargo, the couple used its Singapore-based company, Monarch Aviation, as well as aviation companies in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Texas to buy aircraft parts and sensitive munitions technology from the West and then illegally send the material and information to Iran.

She later changed the name of the company to try to elude U.S. authorities.

"Ms. Woodford, through her company Monarch Aviation, was one of the largest diverters of U.S. origin aircraft parts to Iran," Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Export Enforcement Kevin Delli-Colli said in a statement.

The indictment claimed that Monarch "is known to have exported goods worth millions of dollars."

Wang-Woodford's guilty plea includes an admission that she has been illegally selling munitions to Iran for more than 20 years.

She faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. In addition, Wang-Woodford agreed to forfeit $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury Department.