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Fiber Optic Contractor Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Gov't

A military contractor that manufactures fiber optic connectors for Army communication systems and Patriot missile launchers pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges Wednesday, admitting it submitted falsified product tests to the Defense Department.

Ace & Co. Inc., a Massachusetts company with a factory in Naugatuck, Massachusetts, agreed to pay $230,000 (euro179,700) in restitution to the government. The company also faces up to $500,000 (euro390,680) in fines and could be prohibited from selling to the military.

Its attorneys said the company never provided the military with inferior equipment.

Prosecutors said the company fabricated test data in 1999, when it was seeking approval to sell the Army its TFOCA-1 fiber optic connectors. The employees who wrote the documents were fired and the products eventually passed their tests, attorneys said.

The Pentagon's contracting office will decide whether to disallow the company and a subsidiary, Stran Technologies Inc., from future sales. Such a move would effectively put the company out of business, attorneys said.

"This is a good company that makes good parts," attorney Andrew Gaillard said. "Hopefully they'll see it the way we see it."

Also Wednesday, company president James E. Stranberg Jr. pleaded guilty to tax evasion. Prosecutors said the government was underpaid by more than $196,000 (euro153,150). Stranberg faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced Oct. 20.

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