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Pennsylvania man accused of having employee kidnapped, tortured to protect ‘corrupt scheme’ in Iraq

Judge's gavel in a courtroom, stack of law books. (wp paarz/Flickr)

A Stroudsburg man already charged with illegally dealing arms to Iraq is accused of having an employee kidnapped and subjected to “heinous acts of violence” by Kurdish soldiers in 2015.

Ross Roggio, 53, directed and participated in the torture over the course of 39 days, according to a new release from U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus of the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

According to an indictment returned Tuesday, Roggio was managing a project to construct a factory and produce weapons in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.

The indictment alleges that one of Roggio’s employees raised concerns about the project and, to prevent interference, Roggio arranged for Kurdish soldiers to abduct the employee to a military compound.

Roggio is accused of leading multiple interrogation sessions during which he directed Kurdish soldiers to suffocate the man with a bag, taser him in the groin and other areas of his body, beat him with fists and rubber hoses, jump violently on his chest while wearing military boots, and threaten to cut off one of the his fingers while applying pressure to the finger with a large cutting tool.

On at least one occasion, Roggio wrapped his belt around the man’s neck, yanked him off the ground and suspended him in the air, causing him to lose consciousness, the indictment alleges.

Roggio and the Roggio Consulting Company LLC were charged in a 37-count indictment in 2018 with illegally exporting firearms parts and tools from the United States to Iraq as part of the weapons project.

The new indictment adds the torture charges to the previous offenses. It also charges Roggio with one count of conspiracy to commit torture and one substantive count of torture.

Roggio is the second U.S. citizen, and the fourth defendant overall, to be charged with violating the torture statute since the law went into effect in 1994.

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each of the torture charges and a maximum penalty of 705 years in prison for the remaining 37 counts.

The FBI and Homeland Security Investigations oversaw the torture allegations and were joined in the investigation of the alleged arms export violations by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, Office of Export Enforcement.

“These charges demonstrate that the Department of Justice will hold U.S. citizens who commit horrendous acts of violence accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Jacqueline Maguire, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia field office, said Roggio leveraged his position and used foreign soldiers “to intimidate and coerce someone who was a threat to the success of his corrupt scheme.”

“Whether in the United States or on foreign soil, heinous acts like torture violate our laws,” she said. “The FBI has a global reach and working in concert with our federal and international partners, will pursue justice for any victim, here or abroad, who suffers at the hands of an American citizen.”


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