An American defence contractor has pleaded guilty to having illegally sent blueprints of military hardware to India, including parts used in nuclear submarines.
Robert Luba, 47, also pleaded guilty in a New Jersey court to having provided non-conforming "wing pin" components manufactured in India and used in F-15 fighter jets instead of those made in the US under contractual obligations.
It was the installation of these faulty Indian-made wing pins, which forced the US Air Force to ultimately ground as many as 47 F-15 fighter aircraft for inspection and repair, resulting in a loss to the government of about $166,000, federal prosecutors alleged.
Luba, who now faces a maximum penalty of a $1 million fine and 20 years of imprisonment, has agreed to pay back approximately $173,000 to the Department of Defence, which includes the cost of repair for the grounded F-15s. His sentencing is scheduled for February 19, 2014.
"By recklessly providing sub-standard parts for sophisticated weapons systems and sharing sensitive information with a foreign state, Luba not only jeopardised the lives of men and women on the front lines of our national defence, he put all Americans at risk, all in the name of making a buck," Attorney Paul J Fishman said.
The indictment alleges that Luba, owner of OneSource USA, used the password-protected website of a New Jersey church to transmit the blueprints for hundreds of defence hardware items to a conspirator in India, without the church's knowledge.
Luba is also owner and general manager of Allied Components.
But the indictment does not reveal the end destination of the military blueprints of hundreds of sensitive items like technical drawings for NSSN Class Submarines, torpedo tubes, open breech doors, and gagging collar A. It also does not give details of where in India the faulty parts for the fighter jets were manufactured.
In court papers, the Indian source is identified as RP.
"Luba would e-mail this contact -- identified in court papers only as 'RP' -- technical data for spare parts needed by the DoD so that RP and Luba could decide how much they would charge, and Luba could decide whether he could bid on the DoD contracts. The technical blueprints that Luba e-mailed to RP in India included technical data protected under export control laws," the Department of Justice said.
"These e-mails included a 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," it said.
According to court papers, On February 7, 2012, Luba submitted a bid for a contract with the DoD to supply American-made wing pins for use in the F-15 combat aircraft and was awarded the contract. On April 2, Luba received an international Federal Express delivery of the wing pins from India at his 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, federal prosecutors alleged.
On October 10, 2012, the DoD contacted Luba with an urgent e-mail, reporting that the wing pins under this contract, and a second contract with Allied Components, were not of the hardness required under the contract.
"Luba e-mailed One Source 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 sent Luba material certifications and inspection records for the wing pins, which listed only a New Jersey address for the company," the Justice Department said.
"On October 12, 2012, Luba sent these false and misleading certifications and inspection records to a contracting officer at the DoD," it said.
"The US 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," the Department said.