TRENTON, N.J. – The owner and general manager of Sparta-based Allied Components LLC, a company that supplies defense hardware items to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), pleaded guilty Wednesday to making a false claim to the DOD and for violating the Arms Export Control Act. The guilty plea is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS).
Robert Luba, 47, of Sparta, provided the DOD non-conforming wing-pins for the F-15 fighter aircraft. The wing-pins were supposed to be made in the United States, but were instead manufactured in India. He also violated the Arms Export Control Act for transmitting information about a component of a nuclear-powered submarine to India without the approval of the U.S. Department of State.
According to court documents, Luba was the owner and general manager of Allied Components LLC, which had contracts to supply the DOD with defense hardware items and spare parts. In July 2011, Luba signed a military critical technical data agreement certifying that he acknowledged his responsibilities under applicable U.S. export control laws.
In October 2011, Luba began a business relationship with One Source USA LLC. Luba used One Source USA as a source of defense hardware items and spare parts, which Allied Components would in turn provide to the DOD. Luba’s principle contact at One Source USA was Hannah Robert. Luba learned that Robert and One Source USA manufactured their defense hardware items and spare parts at a production facility in India. Luba admitted that he provided these foreign-made defense items to the DOD under contracts in which he had promised to supply American-made products.
On Feb. 7, 2012, Luba submitted a bid to supply American-made wing-pins for use in the F-15 combat aircraft. He was awarded the DOD contract. On April 2, 2012, Luba received an international FedEx delivery of the wing-pins from India at his Sparta residence. Despite knowing that the wing-pins were made in India, Luba shipped these foreign-made wing-pins to the DOD and accepted payment for them.
On Oct. 10, 2012, the DOD contacted Luba with an urgent email to report the wing-pins under this contract, and a second contract with Allied Components, did not meet the hardness requirements of the contract. Luba emailed Robert requesting a certification of the materials used in the manufacture of the wing-pins, as well as inspection records, to provide to the DOD. One Source USA sent Luba material certifications and inspection records for the wing-pins, which listed only a New Jersey address for the company. On Oct. 12, 2012, Luba sent these false and misleading certifications and inspection records to a contracting officer at the DOD.
The U.S. Air Force ultimately grounded 47 F-15 fighter aircraft for inspection and repair as a result of the non-conforming wing-pins, resulting in a loss to the government of about $166,000.
"HSI takes the illegal export of defense items very seriously, as they are crucial to the protection of our national security," Andrew McLees, special agent in charge of HSI Newark, said. "We will continue to work with DCIS and other federal partners to ensure the safety of our U.S. military and homeland."
"The conduct admitted by Luba shows a callous disregard for the safety of our armed forces," U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. "By recklessly providing sub-standard parts for sophisticated weapons systems and sharing sensitive information with a foreign state, Luba not only jeopardized the lives of men and women on the front lines of our national defense, he put all Americans at risk, all in the name of making a buck."
"The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is committed to protecting the integrity of the Defense acquisition process from personal and corporate avarice," Craig Rupert, special agent in charge of the DCIS Northeast Field Office, said. "Ensuring U.S. taxpayers’ dollars and preventing contract fraud is in our nations’ interest and remains a priority."
Luba also admitted that he had a contact in India associated with One Source USA with whom he communicated in connection with Allied Components’ business with the DOD. Luba would email this contact, identified in court papers only as "R.P.," technical data for spare parts needed by the DOD so that R.P. and Robert could decide how much they would charge, and Luba could decide whether he could bid on the DOD contracts. The technical blueprints that Luba emailed to R.P. in India included technical data protected under the export control laws. Luba failed to obtain the necessary license from the U.S. Department of State in to legally send these emails. These emails included a the technical drawing for a hardware item known as the "Torpedo Tube, Open Breech Door, Gagging Collar A," for installation in a nuclear-powered military submarine.
Robert, the owner of One Source, was indicted Oct. 10, by a federal grand jury on separate charges of conspiring to violate and violating the Arms Export Control Act. The indictment alleges that Robert used the password-protected website of a Camden County church to transmit the blueprints for hundreds of defense hardware items to her conspirator in India, without the church’s knowledge.
Robert’s arraignment on those charges is scheduled for Oct. 28, before Judge Pisano in Trenton. Robert is on home detention pending trial.
When sentenced Feb. 19, 2014, Luba could receive up to 25 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $1.25 million fine. As part of his plea agreement, Luba also agreed to pay approximately $173,000 to the DOD, which includes the cost of repair for the grounded F-15 aircraft.