Defense contractor Vista Machining Co. has been charged with making false claims about the aluminum he provided for U.S. military aircraft landing gears. Ross Hyde, owner of the company faces up to five years in prison if convicted. But inspectors said many of his products were cheap replacements, some illegally obtained from China, which he tried to hide from the government. Substituting such knockoffs can cause serious safety problems for members of the military if the parts are used in critical systems.
But Vista has earned more than $20 million from government contracts, according to a government database. The case highlights the government’s questionable oversight of its defense contractors, who are able to keep selling Uncle Sam goods despite being repeat offenders. Previously, Hyde pleaded guilty in 1997 to a charge of false statements by a government contractor. He was sentenced to one year in prison and a $60,000 fine. His father and Hyde’s company, Ordnance Parts Inc., also were charged in the case. rs’ radar again in 2015 when the Defense Criminal Investigative Service raided Vista’s offices. Hyde and his company were given a three-year ban on receiving contracts in October 2016.
Vista also used vendors not authorized to receive “technical data that discloses critical technology with military and space application.” The Fort Worth company had obtained quotes from approved vendors but instead chose low-bidders from Chinese companies, the agency said. In one case, Vista paid another company to “grind off” a marking indicating the part was made in China, the agency’s report said.
“These breaches not only call into question the reliability of the parts Vista delivered but leaked sensitive technical data to unauthorized parties,” James Coyne, an official with the logistics agency, wrote in a memo.
An Ohio man, Stephan D. Boggs, 64, was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison in 2017 in a case similar to Hyde’s. Boggs supplied inferior and defective materials in his parts that were used in military aircraft, vehicles and vessels, according to prosecutors.
The federal agency also said Vista had knowingly violated the Buy American Act, which requires federal agencies to purchase American-made products.
If you have knowledge of fraud by Government contractors you may be able to become a whistleblower under the False Claims Act.