Three former Genisco Technology Corp. supervisors were sentenced to federal prison Monday for their roles in a scheme that supplied faulty components for a variety of military weapons, including the HARM missile and a Navy torpedo system.
U.S. District Judge A. Andrew Hauk in Los Angeles handed out sentences ranging from one year to 4 1/2 years, far short of the 15-year terms government prosecutors had sought for a fraudulent testing program that, they said, put the nation's military readiness at risk.
The three men, along with the corporation, pleaded guilty last year to a federal grand jury indictment alleging that Genisco developed "cheater" computer programs and other methods to falsely certify that devices known as pressure transducers, manufactured by the company for a variety of military subcontracts, had met government specifications.
The small, pressure-sensing devices were a critical component on the high-speed anti-radar (HARM) missile, whose failure, military officials said, could cause the weapon to miss its target. Similar concerns were expressed for the transducers' reliability on Navy torpedo systems, a Coast Guard search and rescue helicopter and a Navy underwater targeting device.
As a result of the investigation, HARM missiles were recalled from strategic areas around the world, and in two subsequent test-firings, the missile failed both times because of malfunctions in its guidance system attributable to the Genisco transducers, said the prosecutors, Assistant U.S. Attys. Brian Hennigan and David Katz.
Of 60 transducers tested in a separate exercise, 59 failed to meet specifications, probably as a result of the falsified test certifications, the prosecutors said.
One of the defendants who designed the computer program to falsify passing test results reportedly told an associate: "I get paid big money to cheat, so that's what I'll do."
"This is an active, ongoing misconduct that went on for five years that has made us have to worry about whether our military systems work or not," Katz told the judge, urging him to "send a patriotic message" to government contractors in his handling of the case.
In response to one of the defendant's claims that he was only following orders from his supervisors, Hennigan said: "He was fully aware of the fact that what he was sending was junk, and it wasn't going to work. And he was right. It was junk, and it didn't work."
Werner Brinkschulte, general manager of the Simi Valley division of Genisco that manufactured the transducers, was described by another employee in the government's sentencing memorandum as "a Hitler type," who made other workers fear they would lose their jobs if they did not go along with the fraud.
But his attorney, Bruce Jones, called the "Hitler" comparison a "cheap shot" and said Brinkschulte has fully admitted his own role but pointed out Brinkschulte was unaware, in most cases, that the parts did not meet specifications.
Brinkschulte blamed other employees for "passing the buck." Brinkschulte was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison and 1,000 hours of community service. He also was fined $30,000 and ordered to contribute an extra $10,000 to the Fund for People, an organization in which convicted white-collar criminals perform community services.
Danny K. Evans, a technician and supervisor in the transducer division, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and 750 hours of community service, together with a $20,000 fine.
Robert L. Kersnick, quality assurance manager at the division, was sentenced to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The Genisco corporation, based in Rancho Dominguez near Carson, also entered a guilty plea last year and was ordered to pay $725,000 in fines and restitution.