North Korea man to be sentenced in night-vision goggle case

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A man from North Korea who pleaded guilty to trying to illegally export military-grade night vision goggles is set to be sentenced Thursday in Salt Lake City.

Song Il Kim, 42, faces more than three years in prison. He was arrested in Hawaii after meeting with an undercover agent in a Waikiki hotel. Prosecutors say Kim handed over $16,000 in cash and got three pairs of goggles he packed into boxes disguised as used toys and towels for shipment to his company in China.

Prosecutors say the equipment would have made it to North Korea from there if agents hadn't intercepted it, though defense attorney Scott Williams disputes that statement.

The July meeting in Honolulu came after a monthslong investigation by a team of Utah-based Homeland Security agents. It started when an agent responded to an ad Kim ran on a business-to-business website.

Kim was interested spending a total of $22,000 to buy two types of goggles, one designed to be mounted to a helmet or gun and used with one eye, and the other meant to be worn over both eyes, charges state.

Both are designed for the U.S. military, and it is illegal to export them without State Department authorization, prosecutors said. He was also interested in a thermal imaging weapon sight, according to court paperwork.

The U.S. has an arms embargo with China, and it denies export licenses to North Korea.

Kim, who is also known as Kim Song Il, was born in North Korea, holds a Cambodian passport and lives in China, according to court records.

Kim pleaded guilty to violating the Arms Export Control Act by exporting the equipment without a license, court records show. That law regulates shipping of military equipment, guns, explosives and other devices. Prosecutors dropped a smuggling charge in exchange.

Under the terms of the plea deal, Kim faces 40 months in prison.