NORFOLK, VA - International Veneer Company president H. Tyler Howerton admitted in court today that his company smuggled 700 pallets of wood veneer sheets and three forklifts to Syria over the course of four years.

Howerton pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Eastern Virginia on behalf of his firm, also admitting his company attempted to smuggle 17 pallets of wood veneer to Iran in 2010.

In a statement of facts (linked here) submitted to the court and signed by Howerton, the veneer shipments to Syria began in January 2007 and continue monthly through March 2011, totalling $2.6 million in value. An additional series of veneer shipments to Syrian were made to 2007, totalling $695,000. Bills of lading on the veneer shipments, made throught the Port of Norfolk, falsely listed Germany as their ultimate destination.

The guilty plea was expected, and helps the veneer firm avoid further prosecution.

The court will issue a sentence May 23. International Veneer will likely forfeit $2 million from the sale and a $50,000 fine. Court documents obtained by Woodworking Network showed a plea agreement had been set forth by International Veneer that would allow the firm to pay in installments: $521,000 upon sentencing, and the balance in 12 quarterly payments.

In 2010 International Veneer had a run-in with the Department of Homeland Security which filed a complaint in U.S. District Court held up a shipment of about 68,000 square feet of endangered afrormosia from Congo, shipped to the U.S. by R. Ulrich & Co., Hamburg, Germany.

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