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Supplier receives sentence

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | January 26, 2012

A Department of Defense contractor was recently sentenced to 105 years in prison for defrauding the government millions of dollars by supplying defective parts to the military.

Roger Charles Day Jr., a former DoD contractor and “America’s Most Wanted fugitive,” was convicted for his role in leading an international conspiracy to commit fraud. He was extradited from Mexico in December 2010 following his arrest in Cancun, Mexico, resulting from his appearance on “America’s Most Wanted,” according to a Department of Justice press release dated Dec. 15, 2011.

The release states, “In the course of the scheme, Day and other conspirators, operating in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Belize, formed at least 18 separate companies that posed as legitimate contractors and collectively used a computer program to win nearly 1,000 lucrative contract awards for the various companies. Day and his conspirators then shipped defective parts to the DoD on more than 300 of those contracts, receiving more than $4.4 million in payment on parts that Day purchased for less than $200,000.”

In all known cases, the parts sent by Day and his conspirators could not be used for their intended purpose, according to the press release.

Day supplied hundreds of non-conforming parts, which were to be used in military aircraft, vehicles and weapons systems. One such part was the piston and slipper assembly, which is a part used to rebuild the hydrostatic steer unit in the assault amphibious vehicle assembled by Maintenance Center Albany employees.

The HSU converts the movement of the steering controls from mechanical input to hydraulic input, which controls the steering of the vehicle.

When the faulty parts were found at MCA, Robert Wilmoth, quality assurance specialist, Business Management Department, MCA, was assigned to conduct an investigation. He submitted a Product Quality Deficiency Report in late November 2006 describing why the part did not meet the requirements of the drawing. This marked the beginning of what would be a five-year investigation by the U.S. Justice Department.

“When you investigate non-conforming parts, you would think someone might have made a mistake,” Wilmoth said. “It surprised me somebody would intentionally do something like this to that magnitude.”

Wilmoth would soon learn the contractor had been flooding Defense Logistics Agency with hundreds of non-conforming parts. Throughout the next five years, he aided the U.S. Justice Department in the conviction by providing essential documentation.

“We assisted special agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service with documentation including slide shows, which depicted the parts that did not match the drawings,” Wilmoth said. “We provided information to prove the contractor knew when he was awarded the contract, when he was to provide the part and assisted in explaining that his parts were not the correct ones.”

Wilmoth, a retired Marine gunnery sergeant who worked as a heavy equipment mechanic in the Marine Corps, was interviewed several times to assist in providing additional detailed facts concerning substandard parts, according to Gail Barker, supervisor, quality assurance, Business Management Department, MCA.

“He articulated, as only a Marine could, that the lives of Marines could have been put in harm’s way due to the inferior material the defendant sold to the government and the Marines’ mission readiness would have been compromised due to the lack of acceptable parts,” she said.

“If Marines (are in a combat zone) and the steering goes out because of a faulty part, the Marines will become stranded because the HSU controls all the steering (in an AAV),” she said.

Wilmoth said the military has quality procedures in place so non-conforming parts can be caught before being installed and endangering the lives of Marines.

“It is very important for us to find the defective material before (it reaches the Marines forward deployed),” Barker said. “The Marines may not have a metal shop in the field (and cannot fix the part).”

After more than five years of detailed documentation, the contractor was apprehended, tried in court and sentenced to 105 years in prison.

“Mr. Day’s greed put the men and women in the U.S. military in harm’s way,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride, Eastern District of Virginia, said. “He is a serial fraudster who made millions by exploiting the military supply chain during a time of armed conflict. Today’s sentence ensures he will never again put our military in danger,” the press release read.

“Mr. Day orchestrated a complex, multi-year fraud scheme that jeopardized the safety of our nation’s military personnel,” Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer, Criminal Division, added. “He operated this scheme from outside the United States, in an attempt to escape justice, and he deliberately provided defective equipment to the Department of Defense. Today’s lengthy prison sentence reflects the seriousness of Mr. Day’s reckless crimes.”

“It makes me feel good the contractor was caught for providing faulty parts and convicted,” Wilmoth said. “He knew the parts were going to the military to defend our country and protect the lives of Americans. With the amount of years he was given, I don’t think we will be getting any parts from him anytime soon.” Barker said Wilmoth is a very dedicated employee and is highly respected for his knowledge.

“Mr. Wilmoth is like a bulldog,” she said. “When he starts something, he finishes it. He does not let go until (he) is through (with the project). It goes back to the old adage, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine.’”

“Bob’s diligence has paid benefits,” Trent Blalock, deputy commander, MCA, said. “This is a testament to his personal drive to do the right thing. He understands the importance that every part has to ensure we provide a quality product to the warfighter.”