The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 27, 2013

Top 10 of 2013 | Lawyer: Kucheras to plead: Defense contractors accused of failing to make deliveries

WINDBER — A Windber area defense contractor’s founding brothers will admit in federal court they conspired to charge $650,000 for military components that were never delivered, their attorney said Wednesday.

The plea follows years of federal probing into Ron and William Kuchera’s former Windber area businesses, including a 2009 raid on the companies and their rural Cambria County ranch.

“The agreement of the Kucheras to plead guilty speaks for itself,” said attorney Dennis McGlynn, who represents the Kuchera companies.

U.S. District Court staff in Johnstown indicated a plea date had not been set in the case.

The Kuchera brothers, who founded Kuchera Industries in 1985 and Kuchera Defense Systems in 1994, received millions in federal funds through the years that followed to perform work for the government or major defense contractors.

Oftentimes, the funding came through earmarks from the late U.S. Rep. John P. Murtha, who chaired the House’s defense appropriations subcommittee.

By the mid-2000s, the company grew to employ nearly 300 workers – a count that ranked it among Windber’s top employers.

But federal investigators said the Kucheras didn’t always deliver on their promises.

The men are accused of claiming lobbying costs, hunting trips and a private airplane as business expenses. Some of those expenses were invested into their game ranch, prosecutors have alleged.

The latest charges allege the Kucheras inflated their costs on the military’s Ground Mobile Gateway System and passed them on to the government.

Coherent Systems was the prime contractor.

Prosecutors also say the Kucheras expensed kickbacks to the company’s then-top administrator, fellow former 12th district contractor Richard Ianieri, who was convicted in Florida federal court for accepting several kickbacks.

In 2010, the Kuchera brothers sold their Kuchera Group assets, including their Pomroy Drive plant, for $24 million to Toronto-based API Technologies Corp.

At the time, Kuchera companies were on the federal Excluded Parties List – which suspended them from contracting with government agencies – and a federal investigation was under way on their business practices.

IRS and FBI agents raided Kuchera offices and the Kuchera homes a year earlier, processing information for 300 workers at their plant and seizing documents.

McGlynn and Pittsburgh attorney Stanton Levenson, representing Ron Kuchera, said they intend to make the court aware of the high quality of the parts Kuchera did provide to the government and the “charitable good” donated to their community.

“We are confident that the court will fashion a sentence that will temper justice with mercy.”

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