Defense Contractor Admits Filing False Documents Relating to Machine Gun Contract
NEWARK, N.J. – The former chief operating officer of a New Jersey custom manufacturing firm admitted today that he made false statements and submitted false documents to the Department of Defense in fulfillment of a machine gun bipod assembly contract, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.
Mark Colello, 54, of Hackettstown, New Jersey, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William Martini in Newark federal court to an information charging him with two counts of making false statements and representations.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
In April 2015, Colello’s company was awarded government contracts by the U.S. Army, Department of Defense, to manufacture bipod assemblies for the M249 light machine gun that required the use of a specific grade of steel. Colello falsified test results for the hardness of steel used to construct the bipod assemblies and for the magnetic particle inspection of the head and collar joints for the bipods. The weaker grade steel and the faulty head and collar joints caused the legs of the bipods to fail when soldiers attempted to use them to support their machine guns.
The count of making false statements carries a maximum potential penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited special agents of the U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Leigh-Alistair Barzey; special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Gregory W. Ehrie in Newark; special agents of Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian Michael; and U.S. Army Criminal Investigations Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge L. Scott Moreland, for the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Mahoney of the National Security Unit.