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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Michigan

Friday, October 24, 2014

Former Defense Contractor Convicted in Scheme to Sell Defective Machine Gun Components to Department of Defense

Colorado Resident Howard Cahn, Who Tried to Save His Michigan Manufacturing Business by Selling Defective Machinegun Components to DoD in 2009, Convicted of Four Felonies

           GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN – United States Attorney Patrick A. Miles, Jr. announced today the conviction, on October 23, of Colorado resident Howard “Jack” Cahn, on four felony charges following a four-day jury trial in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The charges stem from Cahn’s conduct during 2009 when, as the owner of a manufacturing company that was under contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to produce critical replacement parts for several machinegun weapons systems used by the U.S. Armed Forces, he tried to sell DoD parts that were defective and that did not meet contract specifications.

“Defense-procurement fraud is a serious offense,” said U.S. Attorney Miles. “When it involves misconduct that also can endanger U.S. troops in the field, it is outrageous as well. Mr. Cahn tried to save his company and make a dollar even if it meant sending U.S. troops into battle with defective weapons during the height of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will now be held accountable.”

In 2008, Cahn purchased a machining shop in Michigan and began doing as “Aerospace Manufacturing Services (AMS),” producing components for various weapons systems under contracts with components of DoD. These contracts included ones for the production of internal components for the M-249 5.56 mm Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) and the “Mark 19”40 mm grenade-machinegun. Both weapons systems are in wide use by all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the components in question are essential to the reliable and safe functioning of those weapons. By April 2009, AMS was in serious financial trouble and Cahn was desperate to ship on the contracts so that he could receive payments from DoD. In early April, Cahn coerced employees of his to add defective M-249 “feed pawls,” which had failed dimensional testing during production and had been designated as scrap, to a shipment of good parts that was awaiting DoD acceptance. At the same time, and in an attempt to receive DoD approval to go into full production on his contract for Mark 19 “lever drives,” he coerced an employee to alter testing documents related to a sample of lever drives, that had been produced by a company in Colorado, to make it appear as though the sample had been produced by AMS. In addition, he personally prepared false certification documents claiming that the levers had been produced by AMS.


Updated April 10, 2015