Business owner sentenced to 8 years in prison for crimes involving more than $2 million in Department of Defense contracts
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Daniel Emerson Norton, 52, formerly of Arlington, Va. and the owner of Torrance, Calif.-based Emerson Company, was sentenced in U.S. District Court today to 96 months in prison. Norton fraudulently secured approximately $2.2 million in contracts to provide critical parts to the U.S. Department of Defense, which he then filled with defective parts made in China, in violation of the Buy American Act.
A trial against Norton began on April 8. He interrupted the trial after five days to enter pleas of guilty.
According to court documents and testimony at trial, the Department of Defense (DOD) barred Emerson Company from doing business with the U.S. Government in 2011. Between 2011 and 2013, Norton continued to recruit people who either already had companies or were willing to start companies to do his bidding on solicitations and contract with the military to provide parts for the U.S. military. When one of the companies was awarded a purchase order, Norton directed the company to send the purchase order to Emerson Company, which would buy and ship the part directly to DoD.
Norton bought the parts from manufacturers in China, even though the contracts required a large number of the parts to be made in the United States. The parts Norton provided had dimensional defects, material substitutions, incorrect or missing markings, incorrect finishes, improper shapes or styles, mislabeled packaging or poor workmanship and thus failed to conform to the contract requirements.
Additionally, when contracts called for an exact part from a specific domestic manufacturer, rather than obtaining these parts from the specified manufacturer (OEM), Norton supplied imitation parts obtained from China that were defective. They involved a variety of parts used on military aircraft, vessels, vehicles, weapons systems and nuclear reactor programs, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, A-10 Thunderbolt, C-130 Hercules, B-52 Stratofortress, AH-64 Apache attack helicopter, the Paladin M109A6 155mm Artillery System, HMMWV “HUMVEE” vehicles and Nimitz Class CVN Aircraft Carriers. Emerson’s defective parts were recalled from military depots worldwide.
Once Norton realized he was under investigation in 2013 by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he took several steps to mislead the government in its investigations.
For example, in an effort to avoid an extension of debarment for providing a non-conforming bolt used on a C-130 aircraft engine, Norton submitted false documents to the DoD deflecting blame from Emerson Company to one of the nine companies under his control. Norton knew, however, that he, personally, had ordered the bolts from a manufacturer in China and they were not supplied by the required OEM.
Norton also admitted to obstructing justice by falsely communicating information to his attorney, or allowing such information to be communicated, with the intent that it be communicated to the United States as it related to its grand jury investigation, thereby obstructing that investigation.
As part of his sentence, Norton was ordered to pay $2.38 million in restitution, and forfeit more than $333,000 in his bank account in the name of Emerson Manufacturing Inc. and a $725,000 residence held by Emerson Manufacturing Company in Kihei, Hawaii.
David M. DeVillers, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio; Leigh-Alistair Barzey, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Criminal Investigative Services (DCIS), Central Field Office; and Bryant Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Michael H. Watson. Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica W. Knight and J. Michael Marous represented the United States in this case.
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