Fraud charges were brought against a woman for falsifying results of tests for high-strength Steel used in US Navy Subs
A federal judge sentenced an American metallurgist to two and a half years imprisonment for fraudulently altering the strength test results on steel that was used in making US Navy submarine hulls. “a crime of pride and ego.”
Benjamin Settle from the US District Court sentenced Elaine Thomas to 67 years in Tacoma Washington. He also noted that even though an extensive Navy investigation was completed, Thomas still had not been charged. “we don’t know the full ramifications of this fraud.” Prosecutor Nick Brown said Thomas betrayed the Navy’s trust for 32 years, “knowingly placing its sailors and military operations at risk.”
Thomas was a former lab director at Bradken Inc.’s military steel supplier. She is accused of permitting inferior steel to be used in Navy submarines for half the orders that she reviewed. The woman allegedly told investigators she believed that a test in steel being cooled to minus100 degrees Fahrenheit, and then struck with an iron pendulum, was sufficient. “stupid” because subs don’t operate in such temperatures. She is accused of falsifying about 240 tests and altering failed scores to make them pass over more than 30 years.
Settle: The case “baffling,” saying, “It seems this was a crime of pride and ego, that in some way she knew better than those who set the standards.”
A lawyer for the metallurgist argued that she’s “a good person who let a number of work pressures cause her to make bad decisions.”John Carpenter, a lawyer said that those pressures were sexism and male dominance in the workplace. Thomas, who was the first woman to receive a degree in metallurgy from Washington State University, won an industry award.
After her false test results came out in 2017, the Navy was forced to incur $14 million costs in order to verify whether their submarine hulls were safe. Thomas will continue to monitor the 30 hulls made of steel.
After discovering false results, Bradken fired Thomas. The defense contractor did not immediately reveal that falsified test results were the result of fraud. It also informed investigators about testing discrepancies. According to the agreement, $10.9 Million was paid by the company in civil litigation with the Federal Government.
To ensure that the hulls are strong in harsh environments, submarine steel must meet strict standards. “wartime scenarios,”According to prosecutors. Submarines are also at risk of being involved in collisions. Last October saw the USS Connecticut collide with an underwater mountain in South China Sea, injuring twelve crew members. In 2005, a similar accident resulted in the death of one crew member and most injuries to the remaining 136.
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