In a significant development in the realm of national security and surveillance technology, Tamer Zakhary, 49, of Toms River, New Jersey, faces serious legal challenges. The CEO of a New Jersey-based security technology company, Zakhary has been indicted for fraudulently selling Chinese security cameras and equipment that are banned in the United States. This case raises crucial questions about the balance between commerce, technology, and national security.
The Charges and the Law
Zakhary is charged with three counts of wire fraud and one count of making false statements, specifically for allegedly misleading law enforcement customers about the legal status of the equipment he sold. According to the U.S. Justice Department, these actions are in violation of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, enacted in 2018, aims to safeguard U.S. systems from foreign intelligence infiltration by prohibiting the federal government from procuring video surveillance and telecommunications equipment from certain Chinese companies.
The Scale of the Operation
The indictment details a large-scale operation led by Zakhary’s company, based in Lyndhurst, New Jersey. From mid-2019 to 2022, his company reportedly sold millions of dollars worth of surveillance cameras and equipment to various public safety and law enforcement agencies across New Jersey. Shockingly, over $15 million of this equipment was purchased using federal funds and grants. This revelation not only highlights the financial magnitude of the operation but also the potential security implications.
The Investigation and Evidence
The FBI’s investigation into this case has been thorough, revealing a deep-seated deception. Email exchanges and interviews conducted during the investigation suggest that Zakhary was aware of the legal limitations of the Chinese equipment he was selling. His defense, however, hinges on a claim that the cameras sold had firmware made in different countries, and thus, in his view, did not violate the NDAA.
The Impact and Response
The charges against Zakhary carry substantial penalties, including up to 20 years in prison for each count of wire fraud and up to five years for the false statements charge. Beyond the legal consequences for Zakhary and his company, this case underscores the ongoing tension between technology advancement and national security concerns. The U.S. authorities, in this instance, are taking a firm stance to protect against potential foreign espionage and data breaches.
The Defense’s Stance
Zakhary’s attorneys have expressed disappointment in the charges, arguing that they neither strengthen national security nor align with the intended goals of the NDAA. They emphasize Zakhary’s 20-year history of supporting law enforcement and insist on the security and reliability of his company’s products.
This case is a stark reminder of the complexities and challenges at the intersection of technology, commerce, and national security. As technology continues to evolve and global tensions fluctuate, such incidents are likely to become more frequent. The outcome of this case will be closely watched, as it could set a precedent for how the U.S. handles similar situations in the future.
- National Electronic Security Alliance (NESA) – New Jersey man indicted for selling banned Chinese cameras.
- U.S. Justice Department.
- FBI Investigation Reports.