Westminster father, son sentenced, fined in fraud Pair disguised weaker fasteners for military use

December 18, 1992|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Staff Writer

A Westminster father and son have been sentenced to prison for supplying substandard hardware fasteners that hold together torpedoes, radar systems and other U.S. military equipment.

Judge Benson E. Legg levied a four-year sentence yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore against George Yezulinas, 51, president and owner of Mil-Spec Fasteners Inc. He also sentenced the man's son and business associate, George Yezulinas Jr., 29, to 41 months in prison. The judge also fined the elder Yezulinas and the corporation $250,000 each.

The two had pleaded guilty to charges of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud for illegally using the the weaker commercial fasteners for military machinery. Each could have received a maximum 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine; the company could have been fined another $1 million.

Over a 10-year period, the Westminster company supplied defense contractors with screws and other fasteners that did not meet military specifications. Among its customers were Westinghouse Electric Corp., Martin Marietta Corp. and BMY.

The company generated about $4 million of revenue a year between 1988 and 1991. William P. Christensen, agent-in-charge the Defense Criminal Investigative Service in Baltimore, estimated half of that income was from defense contracts.

The men admitted to disguising weaker commercial fasteners to make them look like military-strength parts. Some of the military equipment that used substandard Mil-Spec parts include Army radar systems, M-9 earthmovers, Navy satellite systems, Trident submarines, sonar assemblies for submarines and torpedo warheads, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Ira L. Oring.

"If the part does not live up to specifications, the integrity of equipment and safety of those using it is at risk," Judge Legg said in handing down the sentence. "This was a pervasive activity involving many parts over an extended period of time."

The defense sought a more lenient sentence, saying the government had no evidence the parts caused problems with military machinery.

But the judge ruled the men should be penalized for demonstrating a "reckless risk of injury."

Today, the judge was to sentence Mil-Spec Vice President Philip Karpovich, 49, who pleaded guilty to the same charges. He could receive a maximum five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Much of the testimony in the Yezulinases' portion of the sentencing targeted concerns that the Pentagon is not getting its money's worth in defense procurement.

Michael D. Alexander, special agent for the DCIS, said Mil-Spec used chemicals to cosmetically alter commercial zinc-plated fasteners to make them look like military-strength, cadmium-plated parts.

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