Peter Sotis received a 57-month prison sentence. The Florida-based diving instructor was charged with conspiracy and illegal attempt to export unlicensed military-grade rebreathers to Libya. The court also convicted Emilie Voissem in the same case. The woman received a five-month prison sentence for making false statements and a further five months of house arrest.
The whole affair originated in August 2016, when Sotis and Voissem tried to smuggle rebreathers into Libya. Because units of this type can be used for recreational as well as military purposes, they are therefore included on the US Commerce Control List. This is a special list of export items that require a licence from the Department of Commerce (DOC) before they can be shipped to certain countries.
Sotis owned 80% of Add Helium, a Fort Lauderdale-based dive equipment and dive training company. Voissem, in turn, served as office manager. During the trial, it was proven that they both disobeyed the instructions of a DOC special agent, who ordered them not to export rebreathers until a decision on licensing was made. It was also proven that they lied to the shipping company and attempted to mislead it.
Another charge the prosecution brought against Sotis involved threatening a government witness not to cooperate with a federal investigation that was being conducted by DOC and Homeland Security Investigations agencies assisted by the FBI and US Customs & Border Protection.
Previously, Peter Sotis appeared in news outlets in connection with the death of renowned filmmaker Rob Stewart. Sotis accompanied the Canadian filmmaker in 2017. during the fateful dive when he died. Stewart’s parents have filed a lawsuit against Sotis, his wife Claudia, Add Helium and others in connection with their son’s death.
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