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[Slashdot] - Metallurgist Admits Faking Steel-Test Results For US Navy Subs


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schwit1 shares a report from the Miami Herald: A metallurgist in Washington state pleaded guilty to fraud Monday after she spent decades faking the results of strength tests on steel that was being used to make U.S. Navy submarines. Elaine Marie Thomas, 67, of Auburn, Washington, was the director of metallurgy at a foundry in Tacoma that supplied steel castings used by Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding to make submarine hulls. From 1985 through 2017, Thomas falsified the results of strength and toughness tests for at least 240 productions of steel -- about half the steel the foundry produced for the Navy, according to her plea agreement, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The tests were intended to show that the steel would not fail in a collision or in certain "wartime scenarios," the Justice Department said. There was no allegation that any submarine hulls failed, but authorities said the Navy had incurred increased costs and maintenance to ensure they remain seaworthy. The government did not disclose which subs were affected. Thomas faces up to 10 years in prison and a $1 million fine when she is sentenced in February. However, the Justice Department said it would recommend a prison term at the low end of whatever the court determines is the standard sentencing range in her case. [...] Thomas' conduct came to light in 2017, when a metallurgist being groomed to replace her noticed suspicious test results and alerted their company, Kansas City-based Bradken Inc., which acquired the foundry in 2008. Bradken fired Thomas and initially disclosed its findings to the Navy, but then wrongfully suggested that the discrepancies were not the result of fraud. That hindered the Navy's investigation into the scope of the problem as well as its efforts to remediate the risks to its sailors, prosecutors said. In June 2020, the company agreed to pay $10.9 million in a deferred-prosecution agreement.

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