SAN JOSE, Calif. - The former owner of a Santa Clara, Calif., manufacturing company whose firm did business with the federal government pleaded guilty in federal court today to making false financial claims against the U. S. Department of Defense, committing wire fraud and sending money out of the United States to support illegal activity.
Janusz Lament, 49, admitted that while he headed Polex Precision Machining he contracted with the United States Department of Defense (DOD) to make various items, including brake pads for Bradley fighting vehicles, and intentionally failed to make them according to contract specifications. Lament then lied to the DOD by filing falsified certificates of conformance stating that he had complied with the contract specifications when he had not. After being paid by DOD, Lament wired most of the funds overseas to a bank account he controlled in Poland. As part of the plea agreement, Lament agreed to pay full restitution.
The prosecution is the result of a two-year joint investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the U.S. Army's Criminal Investigation Command and DOD's Office of the Inspector General. According to the Polex Precision Machining corporate website, the company specializes in "prototype production and precision machining of metal, "exotic" metal, aluminum, and plastic components crucial to the aerospace, semi conductor, electronic and medical industries.
The U.S. government and Lament agreed that the brake pads were installed in Bradley fighting vehicles out in the field, including current theatres of combat and therefore investigators were unable to determine how many brake pads, if any, had failed.
"Contractors responsible for manufacturing equipment used by the U.S. military must be held to the highest standard - the lives of our service men and women depend on it," said Mark Wollman, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Francisco. "In his zeal to boost profits, this defendant's illegal actions could have easily come at the expense of our soldier's safety. ICE will continue to aggressively target and investigate those who jeopardize our nation's security or the welfare of those devoted to protecting it."
"CID will diligently protect the integrity of the federal contracting process by aggressively investigating fraud and other crimes that compromise military readiness and the safety of our men and women in uniform," said Brigadier General Rodney Johnson, commander of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.
Lament currently resides in Poland, but at the time of the offense was a resident of Santa Clara. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in September 2008 and charged with four counts of wire fraud, four counts of filing a false claim with the United States and three counts of transferring money out of the United States to promote unlawful activity. Under the plea agreement, Lament pleaded guilty to all counts.
Lament is free on bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for November 23 at 9:00 a.m. before Judge Ronald M. Whyte in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of wire fraud is 20 years in prison, a fine of $250,000, and restitution. The maximum statutory penalty for each count of filing a false claim is five years imprisonment, a $1 million fine, and restitution; and the maximum statutory penalty for each count of transporting money out of the United States to promote unlawful activity is 20 years imprisonment, a $500,000 fine, and restitution.