A federal jury has convicted Peter Sotis, 57, and Emilie Voissem, 45, on charges of smuggling, conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and attempting to violate the act.
If the name Peter Sotis rings a bell, it is no coincidence. He was Rob Stewart's dive buddy when the filmmaker tragically lost his life on a deep rebreather dive in 2017, after which he was ostracised by the dive community as well as sued by Stewart’s family for his role in Stewart's death. Both the incident and the lawsuit have been covered in the magazine.
That was not the end of his woes, however. A federal jury in Florida has just convicted Sotis, along with Emilie Voissem, of participating “in a scheme to cause the illegal export of rebreather diving equipment to Libya in August 2016.”
Because rebreathers have both civilian and military use, they are on a list of dual-use items that are export controlled and licensed by the US Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security (DOC-BIS). As such, a license must be obtained in order to export rebreathers to any country with national security concerns, such as Libya.
They were warned
However, according to a press release issued by the US Department of Justice, the defendants willfully attempted to export those items after receiving an instruction from a Department of Commerce special agent that such items were detained and not to be exported while a license determination was pending. Testimony at the trial also showed that Sotis threatened a government witness not to cooperate with the federal investigation.
The pair have both been convicted of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), attempted violation of the IEEPA and smuggling. They are scheduled to be sentenced on 6 January 2022 and face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a million-dollar fine.