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Arms Dealer Behind Jonah Hill Role Loses Appeal

(CN) - A "stoner kid" turned arms dealer who inspired an upcoming Jonah Hill comedy must spend four years in prison for conspiracy, the 11th Circuit ruled.

Efraim Diveroli's story was told in a 2011 Rolling Stone article called "How Two Stoner Kids From Miami Beach Became Big-Time Arms Dealers - Until the Pentagon Turned on Them."

Guy Lawson, who wrote the article, also published a book this year called "Arms and the Dudes," which will be adapted into a comedy movie starring "Superbad" alum Hill.

Diveroli was just 21 years old in 2007 when the U.S. government awarded his fledgling company a $298 million contract to supply Afghanistan with ammunition.

One of the stipulations of the contract was that Diveroli's company, AEY, could not use ammunition from Chinese manufacturers.

When Diveroli learned that his primary supplier did use ammunition from China, he hid that fact and falsely stated that the ammunition originated in Albania, where they had been stored for 20 years.

Since Chinese writing on the metal cases belied that story, however, Diveroli and his colleagues decided to pack the arms in cardboard boxes, having first abandoned a plan to paint over the labels.

Federal agents nevertheless saw the ruse, and Diveroli and AEY were indicted in Miami on 84 counts of wire fraud, major fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Believing that he faced between 168 and 210 months behind bars, Diveroli pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and was sentenced to four years in federal prison.

Both he and AEY also had to make restitution, pay criminal fines and face probation.

On appeal, Diveroli claimed that his counsel had misinformed him of his sentencing exposure, and that he would have proceeded to trial had he known that he truly faced a maximum sentence of only 70 to 87 months.

The 11th Circuit upheld his sentence Friday, rejecting Diveroli's claim that he was improperly denied a hearing on his affirmative defenses.

Diveroli claimed that, if he had gone to trial, he would have claimed that the statements he made on the certificates of conformance were literally true, or that a government authority endorsed his conduct.

"Because both defenses were frivolous, the district court did not abuse its discretion by denying an evidentiary hearing," Judge William Pryor wrote for a three-judge panel.

The Atlanta-based federal appeals court noted that Diveroli faced "overwhelming" evidence of his guilt.

"Diveroli could not establish that it would have been rational to reject this plea agreement given its favorable terms and his near-certain conviction," Pryor wrote.

Todd Phillips, of "Old School" and "The Hangover" fame, is directing "Arms and the Dudes," which is scheduled to hit cinemas in March 2016.

The film co-stars Miles Teller as Diveroli's arms-trading partner, David Packouz.

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