Defense Contractor Pleads Guilty In Sale of Ammunition to Salvadoran Army
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ A defense contractor pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to conspiracy charges in the sale of 18 million rounds of defective ammunition to the Salvadoran army under a $4.8 million Pentagon-financed contract.
At the government’s request, U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton dismissed 25 other counts on various charges against the defendant, John P. Straiton IV, Nordac Manufacturing Corp. of Fredericksburg.
As part of the plea bargain, Straiton agreed to brief prosecutors on the transaction and to testify against two people who were to go on trial Monday.
They are Straiton’s former wife, Darlene R. Straiton, 39, of Fredericksburg, a former vice president and secretary of Nordac, and John P. Fodor, 52, an American businessman living in El Salvador who allegedly was the contact for the commissions.
All three were indicted in May. Ms. Straiton and Fodor are charged with conspiracy, making false statements and illegal import and export. Fodor also is facing charges of obstruction of justice and tax violations.
A hearing for Fodor is scheduled Tuesday.
They were accused of substituting defective ammunition from Yugoslavia for a U.S. product and paying $300,000 in illegal commissions to two top Salvadoran officials who helped arrange the sale.
U.S. officials had approved a 1983 contract in which Nordac was to supply 19 million rounds of U.S.-made ammunition for the Salvadoran army’s automatic rifles. However, Nordac imported the ammunition from a Yugoslavian firm and exported it to El Salvador, telling U.S. officials it was ″Winchester-new.″ Only 1 million rounds were purchased from the American weapons firm, prosecutors said.
Shortly after the ammunition arrived, Salvadoran military leaders complained that their M-16 automatic rifles were jamming because the ammunition was defective. Their complaints prompted an investigation of the Nordac contract, which led to the indictments.
Straiton could receive a maximum of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 26.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore S. Greenberg told Hilton he also will ask that Straiton reimburse the government $490,814, which includes the illegal commissions and $200,000 in interest Straiton illegally earned on advances he got from the Pentagon under the contract.