Pennsylvania man Sentenced for 70 Years in a Torture Case

A man from Pennsylvania has been sentenced to 70 years in federal prison for torturing a citizen of Estonia in 2015 in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. He was also convicted for illegally exporting weapons parts and related services. This information comes from a press release.

Ross Roggio, a 55-year-old man from Stroudsburg, organized for Kurdish soldiers to take and keep the victim at a Kurdish military base. There, Roggio used a belt to suffocate the victim, threatened to cut off one of his fingers, and instructed the soldiers to repeatedly beat, choke, tase, and otherwise harm the victim both physically and mentally for 39 days.

The victim worked at a weapons factory that Roggio was building in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The factory was meant to produce automatic rifles and pistols, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The sentence was issued earlier this week by U.S. District Court Judge Robert D. Mariani.

“Ross Roggio kidnapped and held his victim at a Kurdish military compound in Iraq. Over a period of 39 days, Roggio and others subjected the victim to physical and mental torture,” said Nicole M. Argentieri, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Criminal Division at the Justice Department.

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“During that time, Roggio caused the victim to have difficulty breathing and instructed others to hit, strangle, and use a taser on him.” The victim of Roggio was employed at a weapons factory in Iraq. Roggio broke the law by sending weapons parts and providing services to the factory without permission, which goes against export control laws. Today’s sentence, which comes after the second-ever conviction under the federal torture statute, demonstrates that the United States is dedicated to holding accountable those who commit such terrible acts, regardless of where they occur.

The U.S. Attorney for the Middle District, Gerard Karam, stated that the court’s sentence shows how serious Ross Roggio’s crimes were and provides some justice for his torture victim. We cannot accept violence against anyone’s dignity and human rights. Our office will continue to focus on and go after those who commit such acts, which are against federal law.

Roggio was found guilty by a federal jury in May 2023. He was convicted of 33 charges, including torture, conspiracy to commit torture, conspiracy to commit a crime against the United States, illegally exporting weapons parts and services to Iraq without State Department approval, illegally exporting weapons tools to Iraq without Commerce Department approval, smuggling goods, wire fraud, and money laundering. This information was stated in the release.

Officials said that Roggio was the second person to be found guilty of torture since the federal torture law was put into effect in 1994. The FBI and Homeland Security investigated the torture. They were also joined by the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security, and the Office of Export Enforcement to investigate the arms export violations.

Trial Attorney Patrick Jasperse, from the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, Trial Attorney Scott A. Claffee, from the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Todd K. Hinkley, from the Middle District of Pennsylvania, worked on the case as prosecutors.

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