Ex-Fresno stu­dent pleads guilty to il­le­gal arms deal

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - News - BY ROBERT RO­DRIGUEZ rro­[email protected]­nobee.com

Ara Do­lar­ian Jr., the Fresno man who went from art stu­dent to arms dealer, pleaded guilty in fed­eral court Thurs­day to one count of con­spir­acy to vi­o­late the Arms Ex­port Con­trol Act.

Do­lar­ian, 58, faces a max­i­mum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He awaits sen­tenc­ing.

Do­lar­ian was ar­rested by fed­eral agents in May for al­legedly try­ing to bro­ker an il­le­gal arms deal in 2013 and 2014 with the Nige­rian gov­ern­ment.

Court doc­u­ments show Do­lar­ian, through his com­pany Do­lar­ian Cap­i­tal Inc., was try­ing to sell high-ex­plo­sive bombs, rock­ets, mil­i­tary-grade firearms and air­craft­mounted can­nons from Eastern Europe and South Africa with­out ap­proval from the U.S. State Depart­ment.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors charged Do­lar­ian with con­spir­acy, il­le­gal arms deal­ing and money laundering. He was fac­ing up 45 years in prison if he was found guilty on all the charges. But in a hear­ing on Thurs­day be­fore U.S. Dis­trict Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill, Do­lar­ian en­tered a guilty plea to con­spir­acy to vi­o­late the Arms Ex­port Con­trol Act.

The act pro­vides the gen­eral rules for sell­ing mil­i­tary grade weapons, in­clud­ing the re­quire­ment to be li­censed by the State Depart­ment. Pros­e­cu­tors al­lege Do­lar­ian broke the rules by bro­ker­ing a deal with­out ap­proval from fed­eral of­fi­cials.

The Nige­rian deal that included bombs, rock­ets and can­nons was worth $8.6 mil­lion. Do­lar­ian is al­leged to have used some of the money to pay off fed­eral and state tax debts. But as part his guilty plea, Do­lar­ian will have to for­feit more than $6 mil­lion to the U.S. gov­ern­ment.

Ge­orge B. Ne­w­house, Do­lar­ian’s at­tor­ney, could not be reached for com­ment Fri­day and fed­eral of­fi­cials de­clined to com­ment.

For years, Do­lar­ian qui­etly op­er­ated his Fresno-based com­pany, Do­lar­ian Cap­i­tal Inc., out of a West Shaw Av­enue of­fice, un­til word of his ex­ploits in the arms deal­ing world be­gan to cir­cu­late.

In 2014, Buz­zFeed wrote an ar­ti­cle about Do­lar­ian’s life as lu­cra­tive in­ter­na­tional arms dealer, sell­ing ev­ery­thing from Soviet T-72 tanks to rocket launch­ers.

Do­lar­ian’s ex­per­tise in arms deal­ing is a far cry from his hum­ble be­gin­nings in his home­town of Fresno. His mother, Rose Do­lar­ian, was a peace ac­tivist and his father, Ara, was at one time chair­man of the Art Depart­ment at Fresno State.

The younger Do­lar­ian ini­tially fol­lowed his father into the art world. He stud­ied sculp­ture at the pres­ti­gious Skowhe­gan School of Paint­ing and Sculp­ture in Maine.

Ara Do­lar­ian Jr.

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