A Baltimore corporation pleaded guilty yesterday and agreed to pay more than $1.2 million in fines and damages to the federal government for falsifying tests on antennae it built for a planned radar-jamming system on the Air Force's F-16 jet fighter.
U.S District Judge Walter E. Black Jr. accepted negotiated guilty pleas yesterday evening from attorneys for Nurad Inc. of the 2100 block of Druid Park Drive and for the U.S. attorney's office. No officials appeared for the corporation, which is incorporated in Delaware and is a subsidiary of the Dover Corp.
The five false statements admitted by the company were on certificates of compliance it filed from 1986 to 1988 with the General Dynamics Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas, manufacturer of the F-16.
Beginning in 1985, General Dynamics had ordered from Nurad about 700 of an antenna assembly that was to be part of a system called the Airborne Self-Protection Jammer, equipment designed to detect enemy radar and send out a signal to confuse its aircraft and anti-aircraft missiles.
The F-16 is being used against Iraq in Operation Desert Storm, but it is equipped with other jamming devices. Prosecutors said problems unrelated to Nurad's deception had kept the Airborne Self-Protection Jammer in the development stage.
Two former Nurad officials, David W. Rider, former vice president and director of engineering, and Bruce E. Kopp, a former project manager at the manufacturing plant in Baltimore, were fired from the company and pleaded guilty last August to making the false statements. Rider, 48, of Forest Hill and Kopp, 35, of Baltimore are to be sentenced Feb. 4.
In its guilty plea, the corporation admitted saying that 66 antenna assemblies it shipped between September 1986 and October 1988 had met electrical specifications dictated in its $4 million contract with General Dynamics for the Air Force. It claimed that the units met the Air Force's standards for adaptability during rapid flight maneuvers, for range and for capacity to maintain sufficient jamming power.
Nurad had tried to have the specifications relaxed, according to prosecutors. When it couldn't, authorities say, Nurad technicians were taught to falsify tests. One method they used was to insert a small piece of fiberglass into testing equipment that changed the equipment's electrical properties. They also made multiple copies of successful tests to attach to untested assemblies.
The maximum possible penalties against Nurad were a $500,000 fine on each of the five counts. Under the plea, the company agreed to a total fine of $500,000 on all counts and a $750,000 payment to the U.S. government in civil damages.
Daniel M. Clements, Nurad's attorney, said the company had lost about $7 million since an informant's tip prompted a search of the company by federal agents in November 1988. Nurad has discontinued its commercial radio antennae business, he said, but continues other government contract work.