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Defense Company President Sentenced to Three Years in Fraud Case

July 4, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A judge sentenced a defense contractor to three years in prison and fined him $750,000 for faking quality tests on engine bolts used in thousands of military and commercial aircraft.

″This is a very egregious case motivated primarily by greed and avarice,″ U.S. District Judge A. Wallace Tashima said Tuesday in sentencing Norman D. McHaffie, 56, former president of McHaffie Inc. of Sylmar.

″The actions of McHaffie literally weakened and endangered the national defense,″ Tashima said.

No accidents were attributed to McHaffie bolts.

The bolts were used in the Air Force B-1B strategic bomber, the Navy-Marine Corps F-18 Hornet fighter-attack aircraft, the Navy-Air Force A-7 Corsair II jet attack fighter, the Navy F-14 Tomcat fighter and the Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon.

They also were used in thousands of Boeing Co. and McDonnell Douglas Corp. commercial jets, the government said.

Tashima also sentenced McHaffie’s quality control supervisor, James Hicks, 45, of Sepulveda to 18 months in prison for participating in the scheme to submit false test certifications to the government.

A shop floor manager, William Whitham, 37, of Lancaster, was previously sentenced to 20 weekends in prison.

McHaffie pleaded guilty in April to conspiracy and two counts of submitting false test certifications to the Department of Defense. The other men also admitted wrongdoing.

Prosecutors contended that McHaffie saved more than $1.5 million by failing to properly test some 9 million bolts between 1979 and 1989.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen A. Mansfield said it was the longest- running fraud against the government by a defense contractor uncovered so far.

McHaffie told Hicks and Whitman to create fake test data and fabricate reports to conceal the fraud, according to a federal complaint filed March 29.

The government alleged bolts sent to General Electric Co.’s engine division failed testing by an outside laboratory.

The discovery that many of the company’s bolts failed to meet testing requirements also led to a massive effort to discard them from parts suppliers, prosecutors said.

General Electric alone spent at least $4 million to test a sample of bolts, the government said.

McHaffie shut down in June 1989 and sold off its assets.

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