Auburn woman accused of defrauding US government over steel produced for the Navy
Elaine Thomas, 67, of Auburn pleaded guilty in Tacoma U.S. District Court to defrauding the United States while she was director of metallurgy at Bradken Inc., according to the Department of Justice.
Bradken Inc. operates the Tacoma smelter, which supplies steel for U.S. Navy submarines, according to the Department of Justice. In order for the Navy to purchase steel, it must pass certain strength and durability tests, according to the Justice Department.
Thomas falsified the results to hide the fact that the steel did not pass the strength and durability tests required by the US Navy, according to the Department of Justice.
Thomas falsified the results of 240 steel productions, which is a large chunk of the steel Bradken sold to the Navy, according to the Justice Department.
Thomas now faces up to 10 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine. She will be sentenced on February 14, 2022 by US District Judge Benjamin H. Settle, according to the Department of Justice.
There is no evidence that Bradken’s management was aware that Thomas was tampering with test results until 2017, according to the Justice Department. In May 2017, a lab worker discovered that Thomas’s test cards had been altered and that there were inconsistencies in his records, according to the Justice Department.
In June 2020, Bradken accepted responsibility for the breaches and agreed to resolve the issues. Bradken also paid $ 10.9 million for the sale of substandard steel to the U.S. Navy, according to the Department of Justice.
After the falsified test results were revealed, the U.S. Navy had to take action to ensure that submarines affected by substandard steel could operate safely, resulting in increased costs, according to the Ministry of Justice.