NAVY INTEL OFFICER GOES TO PRISON
A retired Navy commander bitterly regrets ever getting involved with a shady Pakistani arms dealer. George Budenz, 61, of Escondido, Calif. can now add "convicted felon" on his resumé. He was sentenced to one year in federal prison, fined $10,000, and ordered to spend six additional months in a halfway house for his offenses.
It could have been worse. Budenz was contrite about his crimes - helping a convicted arms trafficker export jet plane parts and other aircraft whose ultimate destination was unfriendly Iran. So he testified in court against the man he now calls a "lying snake," and says he wishes he'd "never got involved with him in the first place." Despite his helpful cooperation, the former Naval officer could not escape jail time and the shame that goes with his conviction.
According to court documents, Budenz was part of a plot to illegally export engine parts for F-5 jet fighters, Vietnam-era T-38 military trainers, and Chinook helicopters to Malaysia and Belgium. But the real country the material was to go to is Iran, whose government is one of America's worst enemies in the Middle East.
PLENTY OF REGRETS FOR HIS ACTIONS
"I screwed up," Budenz told the court before he was sentenced in San Diego, Calif. "I never should have spent a moment with this man."
"This man," turned out to be shady Pakistani crook Arif Ali Durrani, who made his headquarters a luxury home in Rosarito Beach, Mexico.
Durrani, who was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison, had already done five years in the slammer back in the 80's for a similar crime. At that time, he was nailed for selling guidance systems for Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.
Budenz, a 26 year Navy veteran with an otherwise impeccable record, reluctantly admitted he knew about the Pakistani's criminal past but went ahead with the deal anyway.
Now the ex-Navy officer has more to fear than incarceration
and paying a fine. His lawyer, Thomas Matthews, says Budenz is suffering
from tumors behind his nose and between his eyes. And the former
officer has even more to worry about. Budenz has two sons currently
in the military, and both are preparing for deployment to Iraq.