Former metallurgical lab director pleads guilty to major fraud in the United States | USAO-WDWA


Tacoma – The former director of metallurgy at Bradken Inc. pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to defrauding the United States by falsifying test results measuring the strength and toughness of steel used in US Navy submarines, US Attorney Nick Brown said. Elaine Thomas, 67, of Auburn, Wash., Pleaded guilty to major fraud in the United States. She faces up to 10 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine when convicted by U.S. District Judge Benjamin H. Settle on February 14, 2022.

According to the records filed in the case, Bradken is the US Navy’s primary supplier of high-performance cast steel for naval submarines. Bradken’s Tacoma Foundry produces castings that builders use to make submarine hulls. The Navy requires the steel to meet certain standards for strength and toughness to ensure it does not fail in certain circumstances, such as a collision. For 30 years, the Tacoma Foundry (which was acquired by Bradken in 2008) produced castings, many of which had failed lab tests and did not meet Navy standards. Elaine Thomas, as director of metallurgy, falsified the test results to hide the fact that the steel had failed the tests. Thomas falsified the results of more than 240 steel productions, which is a substantial percentage of the castings Bradken produced for the Navy.

Court records indicate that there is no evidence that Bradken’s management was aware of the fraud until May 2017. At that time, a lab employee discovered that the test cards had been altered. and that other anomalies existed in Bradken’s records. In June 2020, Bradken entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, accepting responsibility for the breach and agreeing to take corrective action. Bradken also struck a civil settlement, paying $ 10,896,924 to resolve allegations the foundry produced and sold substandard steel components for installation on US Navy submarines.

The Navy has taken important steps to ensure the safe operation of the affected submarines. These measures will lead to increased costs and maintenance as substandard parts are monitored.

The criminal case against Thomas, the deferred prosecution agreement and the civil settlement with Bradken are the result of a coordinated effort between the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, the Commercial Litigation Division of the Civil Division, the Defense Office of the Inspector General of the Ministry of Defense. Criminal Investigation Service, Navy Criminal Investigation Service and Defense Contracts Audit Agency.

Criminal prosecutions are handled by Assistant United States Attorney Seth Wilkinson.

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