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Firm Admits Faking Test Data for Missiles

Times Staff Writer

Genisco Technology Corp. pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges that the company faked testing data and submitted false certifications on key components of the HARM missile and three other military contracts.

In a brief hearing before U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk, officials for the Rancho Dominguez aerospace company admitted that Genisco claimed that critical parts of the missile’s guidance system were up to contract specifications when they failed to meet design standards.

Possible defects in the pressure transducers supplied by Genisco forced the prime contractor on the HARM missile program, Texas Instruments, to recall the missiles from strategic positions around the world and to refit them with new parts, said Assistant U.S. Atty. David Katz, who prosecuted the case.

Accuracy Problem

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Government officials say that failure of the transducers--small pressure-sensing devices--could cause missiles or torpedoes to miss their targets.

Under a plea-bargain, Genisco has agreed to pay $725,000 in fines and restitution, at least some of which will go to a former Genisco technician who supplied information to the government that led to the indictment of the corporation and three of its employees.

“We know from our own investigation that the system is fatally flawed. The transducers just don’t work, and the ability of this missile to perform its functions was severely compromised,” said attorney Herbert Hafif, who is representing the former employee, Roland Gibeault.

Gibeault was laid off from his job shortly after he and two other employees began supplying information about the transducers to the government. However, neither of the other two employees has sought a share of the proceeds of the case under the federal whistle-blower statute.

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In his civil action, Gibeault is also targeting Texas Instruments for alleged negligence in overseeing Genisco products. Gibeault named both companies in a federal whistle-blower suit under which he seeks to share in any fines assessed against the companies if his allegations are proved in court.

“We have information to suggest that it would have been pretty difficult for Texas Instruments not to have been aware of it (failure to test the transducers), and that’s the second phase of the case that we’ll be pursuing,” Hafif said.

Texas Instruments officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday. The company has already reached a $1-million settlement with Genisco to pay for replacement and testing of the components.

Katz said he would not comment on any allegations about Texas Instruments’ knowledge about the false certifications. “Genisco was charged in the indictment; Texas Instruments was not,” he said.

In addition to the HARM missile, Genisco supplied transducers for a Navy torpedo, a Navy mobile underwater target device and the Coast Guard’s Dolphin search and rescue helicopter.


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