A federal magistrate judge has allowed a Bountiful man to remain out of federal custody pending the outcome of his ammunition-sales case. Ralph G. Merrill, 65, is charged with scheming to sell the U.S. Army prohibited Chinese-made ammunition.

Merrill appeared in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City last Friday. He was indicted along with three other people last week in federal court in Florida.

The charges say the four lied in U.S. military declarations that the ammunition they had obtained was manufactured in Tirana, Albania, when in actuality the ammunition was 20 years old and had been manufactured in China.

Short of a presidential order, the U.S. military prohibits ammunition from being acquired from a communist Chinese military company.

According to the indictment, the government paid AEY Inc., based in Miami Beach, Fla., more than $10 million for 35 shipments of ammunition, which was to be then supplied to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Merrill provided financial and managerial assistance to AEY.

The indictment states Merrill, company owner Efraim Diveroli, vice president David Packouz and AEY associate Alexander Podrizki conspired to sell the Chinese-made ammunition to the U.S. Army, knowing the Army's policy against buying such items.

Federal prosecutors say Merrill told the other men how the "Made in China" labels could be removed from the ammunition crates and the crates could then be declared "made in Albania."

Merrill has been ordered to appear in federal court in Florida on this week Friday to face the 71-count indictment.


E-mail: gfattah@desnews.com