Rochester Man Pleads Guilty to Performing Phantom Testing on Military Radios and Sonobuoys
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 18, 2013|
ROCHESTER, NY—U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Steve Wysocki, 50, of Newark, New York, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Frank P. Geraci to four counts of filing a filing a false statement with the United States government. Each count carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig R. Gestring, who is handling the case, stated that Wysocki was in charge of the testing department for Flightline Systems, a Victor-based defense contractor working on United States Army and Navy projects. The defendant oversaw product testing for the KG-40 military radio system, as well as the SH-60 Sonobuoy system.
The KG-40 is a tactical radio encryption system used by the U.S. Army and Navy and sold for export to foreign countries. It consists of several components, including the radio, a remote, and a tray. The SH-60 Sonobuoy system is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) device. The system includes a small sonar unit that is released from both fixed and rotor wing ASW aircraft, as well as various other components including external preamps.
Both the KG-40 and Sonobuoy programs have contractual manufacturing and testing requirements imposed by the United States Department of Defense. Among these protocols is something know as vibration testing. This process subjects the various items to prolonged vibration exposure using a vibration table equipped with pressure plates. The items are placed on the vibration table during the manufacturing process for a pre-set period of time to ensure that they will survive real world conditions on ships and aircraft.
The components are hooked up to a computer during testing, which monitors their performance and then produces a unique graph upon successful completion. Due to many individual testing variables, no two items will produce the exact same testing graph. The graphs are unique to each item and are stamped with the time and date of the test, as well as the serial number of the item tested. The graphs are signed by the table operator and are then made part of the items “traveler file,” which accompanies each item throughout the assembly and testing process. Each item tested must have a copy of a passing vibration table graph in the file in order to be released to the military. The vibration tests were run at Flightline’s Victor facility.
During the investigation, special agents from the FBI and Army Criminal Investigation Division learned that Wysocki was both personally falsifying vibration graphs and directing other subordinates to do so. Wysocki would then print the false graph, or direct others to do so, and include this false document in the items history, thus proving that it was successfully tested, even though as he knew, the item was not properly tested. He referred to this process as “phantom vibe testing.”
As a result of the defendant’s conduct, individual components had to be re-tested costing the Department of Defense $299,094.00
“This office will not tolerate anybody who, by their actions, hurts or impacts the products used by our military men and women to carry out their critical mission,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “This case should serve as a warning to any individual involved in the testing of products to be used by the military: if you attempt to disrupt the process, you will be prosecuted and punished accordingly.”
The plea was the culmination of an investigation on the part of special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Brian P. Boetig; special agents of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command, Major Procurement Fraud Unit (MPFU), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, L. Scott Moreland; Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Cheryl A. DiPrizio; and the Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge, Craig Rupert.
Sentencing is set for March 21, 2014, at 3 p.m. before U.S. District Court Judge Frank P. Geraci.