States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|May 26, 2010||
CALIFORNIA MILITARY CONTRACTOR PAYS $1.2 MILLION TO SETTLE ALLEGATIONS UNDER THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, today announced that CERADYNE, INC., of Costa Mesa, California, which manufactures armored plated inserts used in Black Hawk Helicopters, has entered into a civil settlement in which it will pay $1.2 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act arising from the failure to ballistically test armor plated inserts for Black Hawk helicopters manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Company of Stratford, Connecticut, a division of United Technologies Corporation. CERADYNE is a subcontractor to Sikorsky, which manufacturers the Black Hawk for the United States Army.
The armor plated inserts, which were manufactured by CERADYNE, are installed as original equipment on Black Hawk helicopters. Black Hawks are manufactured for the U.S. Army and for other nations, and Black Hawk-derivative aircraft are manufactured for the United States Navy, Air Force and Marines. The investigation revealed that from 1992 until 2006, the ballistic panels, which are installed both to the left of the pilot and to the right of the co-pilot on Black Hawk helicopters, were not tested to ensure that they had been manufactured according to government requirements.
“Testing of armor plating is a vitally important part of the manufacturing process and deviation from testing protocols puts the lives of our brave service members at risk,” stated David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office takes these matters very seriously and we will do all that we can to ensure the safety of the men and women in the military.”
“A major priority of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service is to ensure our military members have the equipment necessary for their safety and the protection of our nation,” stated Sharon Woods, Assistant Principal Inspector General for DCIS. “It is critical that DoD contractors perform the testing required under the specifications of the contract.”
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our continued commitment to thoroughly investigate all allegations of wrongdoing or failure to meet specified contract requirements – especially while our Nation is at war and we are sending our dedicated service members into harm’s way,” stated Brigadier General Colleen McGuire, the Provost Marshal General of the Army and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
In March 2009, Sikorsky Aircraft entered into a civil settlement with the Government and paid $2,941,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act stemming from CERADYNE’s failure to ballistically test the armor panels.
The Government knows of no injuries resulting from the untested plates.
In the agreement CERADYNE specifically denied the government’s allegations and asserted that it had numerous defenses to any liability.
The investigation was conducted by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Defense Contract Audit Agency, and Defense Contract Management Agency. The matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan M. Soloway.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods