Defense Contractor ArmorSource LLC will pay the U.S. government $3 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit filed by a pair of whistleblowers who accused the company of failing to manufacture and test Advanced Combat Helmets in compliance with contractual standards.
The U.S. Army contracted Ohio-based ArmorSource in 2006 to make the special combat helmets for use by soldiers engaged in combat. The helmets are made of an armored material called Kevlar, which provides ballistic protection for the soldier’s head.
According to the whistleblower complaint, ArmorSource delivered Advanced Combat Helmets to the Army that were manufactured and tested with methods that were not in compliance with requirements set forth in the Army contract, and that these helmets failed to meet contracted performance standards.
In fact, the Army started recalling the ArmorSource helmets in 2010 after several lots of them failed ballistic safety tests.
The U.S. Justice Department said that ArmorSource subcontracted the helmet manufacturing to Federal Prison Industries Inc., which operates under the name UNICOR.
“The U.S. government relies on contractors to manufacture equipment that is critical to the safety of our men and women in uniform, and equipment that fails to meet performance standards not only cheats taxpayers, but can put lives at risk,” said Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Division. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring our military receives products that meet its requirements and for which it has paid.”
Frank Robey, Director of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation unit, likewise said that ArmorSource’s contractual failures put “the very heads and lives of our young men and women who serve this nation” at risk and called the company’s actions “unconscionable.”
The lawsuit was originally filed against ArmorSource by Federal Prison Industries employees Melessa Ponzio and Sharon Clubb, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The whistleblowers will share a reward of $450,000 for their role in helping the federal government recover the funds it spent on the substandard helmets.
Source: U.S. Department of Justice