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Company sold military old parts as new ones
A St. Petersburg aerospace executive pleads guilty to fraud.
By CARRIE WEIMAR
Published June 15, 2007
TAMPA - The president of a St. Petersburg aerospace company pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud for selling used parts to the Department of Defense that he passed off as new.
Some of the parts the government purchased from Triton Aerospace wound up in Navy and Air Force planes, including the B-52 bomber, according to court documents.
Triton's president, Jerry Scott Smith, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, one day after charges were filed against him. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250, 000.
He could not be reached for comment. There was no answer Thursday at Triton's sales office at 146 Second St. N.
According to court documents, the government paid Smith $202, 510 for 91 fraudulent contracts.
The crimes occurred between July 2004 and October 2005, Smith's plea agreement said. During that time, Smith used the Internet to submit bids for government contracts for the Defense Department.
The contracts required the bidder to deliver new electronic and component parts. But Smith did not comply.
For example, Triton received a contract in December 2004 to deliver eight bevel gears, a part deemed a "critical application" by the government.
Instead of buying the part new from the manufacturer, Smith hunted around for surplus and overhauled gears, which he bought at a discount.
Smith bought the gears for $7, 500. He was paid $20, 712 by the government, netting him a profit of $13, 212.
Investigators uncovered the scheme by contacting the manufacturer, which said it had not sold any parts to Triton. Markings on Triton's parts also did not match the manufacturer's.
When questioned by the government, Triton submitted a counterfeit invoice and a fake purchase order. The real documents showing the parts were purchased from other vendors were seized during a raid by federal agents.
Smith is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Richard Lazzara on July 9. The judge will decide whether to accept the plea agreement and determine a sentencing date.