KNOXVILLE - A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed the conviction of a former UT professor for exporting defense technology, wire fraud and conspiracy, according to a news release.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the convictions of John Reece Roth of Knoxville.

Roth, a former professor of electrical engineering at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, was convicted after a

jury trial in September 2008.

He was found guilty of conspiracy, wire fraud, and 15 counts of exporting "defense articles and services" without a license. He was sentenced

to 48 months in prison but has been on bond pending his appeal, the release from the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.

As a UT professor, Roth won an Air Force contract to develop plasma actuators to control the flight of small,

subsonic, unmanned, military drone aircraft. He allowed two foreign national students to access export controlled data and equipment, and exported some of the

data from the contract on a trip to China in violation of the Arms Export Control Act, the release stated.

Roth argued on appeal that the data did not constitute "defense articles and services" as a matter of law, that the jury instruction regarding willfulness was legally incorrect, that the court abused its discretion by refusing to give a jury instruction requested by the defendant regarding ignorance of the law, and that the evidence for his convictions was insufficient.

The Court of Appeals disregarded all his grounds and upheld the convictions.

The case was investigated by the FBI, ICE, the U.S. Office of Special Investigations and the Department of Commerce Office of Export Enforcement.

U.S. Attorney William C. Killian commended the ruling from the Court of Appeals, noting, "This outcome will help communicate the message of the importance of export compliance to

academia and industry, and the research and development communities in particular. It will underscore the criminal consequences of non-compliance and what happens to those who knowingly and willfully violate export control laws."