A YORK businessman who has admitted smuggling thousands of Chinese weapon parts into the United States has launched a bid to return home until an American court is ready to sentence him.

Firearms dealer Karl Kleber pleaded guilty earlier this year to importing 5,000 Chinese-manufactured, 75-round capacity AK-47 rifle drum magazines into America, while making out they were manufactured in Bulgaria. It is illegal in the United States to import arms manufactured in China.

Kleber, 56, is registered with Companies House as a director of two York-based companies – Jago Ltd and Frederic James Ltd, of St Saviourgate. He has been staying in America on bail until he is ready be sentenced.

But the dealer, originally from Germany but most recently living in Portugal, has now asked US District Judge Charles Siragusa to modify his bail conditions to permit him to return home to Germany and travel from there to Portugal.

A submission by Kleber’s lawyer Eric Sussman reveals he is facing the imminent failure of his German company, Transarm, which supplies sporting and law enforcement parts to the military, police forces and private companies around the world.

Mr Sussman refers to a separate decision to allow another York businessman facing the same allegations, Gary Hyde, to return home. Hyde, 41, who denies smuggling weapons into America, was originally told he must stay there until his trial could take place, but a judge then agreed to him going home after he posted $175,000 in bail.

Mr Sussman says Kleber has similar reasons to Hyde for wanting to return home: to see his wife and children, to attend to his business affairs and support himself and his family.

But he argues that while Kleber executed a plea agreement with the US Government and has a strong incentive not to endanger that agreement, Hyde has no similar interest to protect.

He says that if Hyde were convicted, he would face a longer period of incarceration than the zero to six months’ imprisonment Kleber faced under his plea agreement.

But if Kleber breached his bail, he would face much longer in jail, he said.

“There is no logical reason why Mr Kleber would now decide to become a fugitive and face a substantial term of incarceration particularly in light of his conduct to date.”

The judge has asked for more information before deciding whether to allow Kleber to return to Europe.