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September 10, 2013

CTC raid has similarities to Kuchera probe

JOHNSTOWN — Tuesday’s federal raid on Concurrent Technologies Corp. offices in Richland brought back memories of a similar investigation nearly five years ago outside Windber.

On Jan. 22, 2009, three federal agencies raided Kuchera Industries, Kuchera Defense Systems and the homes of William and Ronald Kuchera. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service led the raids, which included the involvement of the IRS and FBI.

Although tight-lipped investigators have made no connection between the CTC investigation and Kuchera, the agencies involved in Tuesday’s raid were also in Windber in 2009. Both CTC and the Kuchera companies had close ties to the late Rep. John P. Murtha.

William Kuchera, of Summerhill, and Ronald Kuchera, of Johnstown, pleaded guilty last March before U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown.

They both pleaded guilty to major fraud against the government and conspiracy. They face up to 15 years in prison and millions in fines and civil penalties. Sentencing is scheduled for next month.

The brothers claimed lobbying costs, hunting trips and a private airplane as business expenses, prosecutors said. In addition, the pair submitted a false invoice for $650,000 to Coherent Systems International Inc., a defense contractor owned by Richard S. Ianieri. The Kuchera company was a subcontractor for Coherent on an $8 million government contract.

After receiving the $650,000 from Coherent, the brothers kicked back about $200,000 to Ianieri, prosecutors said.

Ianieri pleaded guilty in 2009 to soliciting kickbacks and was sentenced to five years probation and ordered to pay $200,000.

“The Kucheras cheated the government by claiming improper reimbursement, submitting a false invoice and then kicking back $200,000 to the prime contracter,” U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton said in March. “Such blatant and outrageous fraud against the United States cannot and will not be tolerated.”

In 2011, the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington went to court to get the Justice Department to release records from investigations in which Murtha was a figure.

CREW said it wants to know why the Justice Department never prosecuted Murtha when others, including former defense lobbyist Paul Magliocchetti, were prosecuted. The lawsuit lists CTC and Johnstown-based MountainTop Technologies as part of the investigations.

Concurrent, also known as CTC, has received hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of defense contracts since it was founded as Metalworking Technology Inc. in 1987. The company focuses on defense issues but also does environmental, engineering, energy and other research. It’s a nonprofit because most of its research is deemed to be in the public interest, according to its website. Among its projects, CTC recently began working with the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia on ways to produce cheaper pennies.

CTC and its principals have never been charged criminally, although the Justice Department subpoenaed the company’s records in 2008 and prosecuted Magliocchetti, who helped CTC and other Murtha-linked businesses get federal contracts.

Magliocchetti was sentenced in 2011 in Virginia to 27 months in federal prison for illegally funneling more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to Murtha and other House members who controlled the Pentagon’s budget. Defense contractors hired his firm to influence Murtha and other key lawmakers who earmarked funds for favored companies.

Magliocchetti acknowledged having relatives, friends and lobbyists write personal checks to support congressional candidates to obscure his influence before reimbursing the donors.

Meanwhile, the Kuchera companies were sold to Toronto-based API Technologies Corp. The local plants continue to operate and are an important part of the API family, spokeswoman Tara Flynn Condon said.

“Windber is still going strong,” Condon said. “It continues to be our center of excellence for electronic manufacturing services and is our systems solutions operation.”

Randy Griffith covers the defense industry for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

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