Pennsylvania Man Charged With Torturing Employee at Iraq Construction Site

A Pennsylvania man was arrested and charged for allegedly torturing an individual while in Iraq in 2015 during a project to illegally export firearms.

Ross Roggio, 53, was arrested Thursday for allegedlykidnapping and torturing an employee in Iraq while directing Kurdish soldiers to inflict physical and mental pain on the individual.Roggio already faces charges for illegally dealing firearms to Iraq, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a press release on Friday.

The indictment states that in 2015, Roggio was managing a project to build a factory and produce weapons in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. One of the employees raised concerns about the operation and Roggio allegedly arranged for the Kurdish soldiers to abduct the employee so others wouldn't interfere with the project.

The employee was kept by Kurdish soldiers at their military compound for around 39 days. Roggio interrogated the employee several times and allegedly directed the soldiers to suffocate the individual with a bag, tased the individual in the groin and other areas of the body, beat the individual with fists and rubber hoses, violently jumped on the person's chest while wearing military boots and threatened to cut off one of their fingers while applying pressure with a large cutting tool.

DOJ Alleges Man Tortured Victim in Iraq
Ross Roggio, 53, was charged Friday with allegedly torturing a victim in Iraq in 2015. Above, police arrest a protester during a march on Al-Nakba Day to demonstrate for the rights of Palestinians on May 15, 2021, in Berlin, Germany. Adam Berry/Getty Images

The court documents allege that on at least one occasion Roggio wrapped his belt around the employee's neck then "yanked the victim off the ground, and suspended him in the air, causing the victim to lose consciousness," the DOJ said in their statement.

"The heinous acts of violence that Ross Roggio directed and inflicted upon the victim were blatant human rights violations that will not be tolerated," said Assistant Director Luis Quesada of the FBI's Criminal Investigative Division.

Roggio was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit torture and one substantive count of torture. He is the second U.S. citizen and the fourth overall defendant to be charged with violating the torture statute since it went into law in 1994.

In 2018, Roggio and the Roggio Consulting Company LLC were charged in a 37-count indictment for illegally exporting firearm parts and tools from the U.S. to Iraq as part of the weapons project. This new indictment adds the charges of torture.

If convicted, he faces a 20-year sentence for each of the torture charges plus a maximum penalty of 705 years in prison for the remaining 37 counts.

"These charges demonstrate that the Department of Justice will hold U.S. citizens who commit horrendous acts of violence accountable," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

Special Agent Jacquline Maguire of the FBI Philadelphia field office said Roggio leveraged his position to use soldiers to "intimidate and coerce someone who was a threat to the success of his corrupt scheme."

"Whether in the United States or on foreign soil, heinous acts like torture violate our laws," she said, adding the FBI is working with their federal and international partners to pursue justice for any victim who "suffers at the hands of an American citizen."

Update 02/18/22, 5:50 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with more information about the allegations against Ross Roggio.