Eric Baird, the former owner and CEO of a Florida packaging consolidation and shipping service pleaded guilty to one count of felony smuggling and admitted to 166 administrative violations of U.S. export control laws as part of a global settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).

The criminal guilty plea was accepted by a federal judge on December 12, 2018 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. BIS imposed a civil penalty of $17 million, with $7 million suspended, along with a 5-year denial of export privileges with one year being suspended. This is the largest penalty to be paid to BIS by any individual.

Don’t want to end up like this guy? We don’t want that for you either. Take notes on the below of what NOT to do.

Baird knowingly and intentionally engaged in illegal exports from the government.  He founded Access USA and developed its business model, which acquired U.S.-origin items for export without alerting U.S. merchants of the items’ final destination. In addition, the company falsified export documentation, altering the value and description of items being exported.  For example, Baird instructed personnel to alter values by 25%, to describe laser sights for firearms as “tools and hardware,” and describe rifle scopes as “sporting goods” or “tools and hand tools.”

“We expect companies and individuals to adhere to our nation’s strict import and export laws,” said U.S. Attorney Chapa Lopez. “Shipping and freight forwarding companies must take sufficient steps to ensure that they are always in compliance with United States law, in order to protect our borders and prevent potentially dangerous items from reaching the hands of our adversaries.”

For the full statement released by the BIS – click here.

Along with the civil case outlined above, there is a criminal sentencing date for Baird that is currently pending with the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

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