Explo co-owner pleads guilty to conspiracy, false statement charges
SHREVEPORT, La. – Acting U.S. Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced today that the co-owner of Explo Systems Inc. pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements concerning the storage of munitions at Camp Minden that led to an explosion.
Explo co-owner David Alan Smith, 62, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Horsnby to one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of making a false statement. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote.
Explo Systems Inc. is a private company whose primary business operations involved the demilitarization of military munitions and the subsequent resale of the recovered explosive materials for mining operations. According to the guilty plea, the U.S. Army awarded Explo a contract on March 24, 2010 to dispose of 450,000 155 mm artillery propelling charges designated as M119A2 for $2,902,500. The Army and Explo officials later amended the contract on March 6, 2012 to dispose of 1,350,000 charges for $8,617,500. The contract required Explo to properly store and dispose of the demilitarized M6. The contract also required Explo to document the sale of the demilitarized M6 by completing an End User Certificate (EUC). On the EUC, the purchaser of the demilitarized M6 certified the purchase and compliance with applicable federal laws. Once the EUCs were certified, Explo submitted the EUCs to the Army.
On October 15, 2012, an explosion occurred at a munitions storage igloo on Camp Minden. The explosion contained approximately 124,190 pounds of smokeless powder and a box van trailer containing approximately 42,240 pounds of demilitarized M6. The damage destroyed the igloo and trailer, shattered windows of dwellings within a four-mile radius, and derailed 11 rail cars near the storage igloo.
As part of the guilty plea, Smith agreed that he conspired with others to defraud the United States by impeding federal, state and local authorities from properly monitoring the operations at Explo’s Camp Minden facility. Smith also agreed that he conspired with others to submit false end use certificates in order to obtain money to which he was not entitled.
Smith faces five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count. As part of the plea agreement, Smith agreed that he owes restitution in the amount of $35,398,761.
The Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, FBI and the Louisiana State Police-Emergency Service Unit investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell is prosecuting the case.