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Viktor Bout Partner Smulian Gets Five Years for Arms Deal

May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Convicted arms dealer Viktor Bout’s former partner was given a five-year sentence by a U.S. judge for his role in a plan to sell weapons to Colombian terrorists.

Andrew Smulian, who testified against Bout, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin in Manhattan. He had pleaded guilty to crimes including conspiring to kill American citizens. Scheindlin sentenced Bout to 25 years in prison last month.

“He’s simply done everything asked of him by the United States,” Mary Mulligan, Smulian’s lawyer, told the judge. Smulian, 71, suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, she said. He will be able to deduct the time he has already been jailed, about 50 months, from his 60-month sentence, Mulligan said.

Smulian, along with Bout, agreed to sell the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia millions of dollars’ worth of weapons, prosecutors said. Undercover agents posed as members of the group, which the U.S. designates a terrorist organization, to arrange the deal. The weapons were going to be used to kill American citizens in Colombia, according to the prosecutors.

Missiles, Rifles

The weapons included surface-to-air missiles, AK-47 rifles, land mines and plastic explosives. Smulian and Bout negotiated a $5 million fee to transport the arms to Colombia, on top of millions of dollars for the weapons, according to court papers.

“I accept full responsibility for my misconduct,” Smulian said in his remarks to the judge. “I would like to apologize to the American people.”

Scheindlin said she took his cooperation with the government into account in sentencing him. She also said his age and health “counsel a greatly reduced sentence.” After his jail term ends, he will have five years of supervised probation.

Smulian, a native of South Africa, operated an air cargo company in that country that went out of business. Scheindlin noted that he was “financially vulnerable” when he agreed to a deal with Bout.

Bout, a former Soviet military officer, was the target of the U.S. sting operation, prosecutors said.

“Mr. Smulian’s cooperation was indeed critical in the prosecution of Mr. Bout,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Anjan Sahni told the judge.

Bout and Smulian were arrested in Bangkok in 2008. Sahni said that Smulian voluntarily waived extradition rights and came to the U.S. after his arrest.

The case is U.S. v. Smulian, 08-cr-711, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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