Force Protection manager, contractor plead guilty to kickback scheme
A manager at Force Protection Industries and an outside vendor have entered guilty pleas in connection with a scheme to award a $500,000 maintenance contract in exchange for a $45,000 kickback.
William Ramsey, a manufacturing manager at the Ladson-based defense contractor, and Robert Coker, owner of a Sumter industrial cleaning and maintenance company, entered plea agreements with federal prosecutors Wednesday in connection with the kickback scheme, court records show.
At stake was a $510,355 contract for cleaning and maintaining paint stalls at Force Protection, which makes mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles for the military, according to court documents.
Ramsey, who was in charge of the paint department, recommended that the contract go to Coker's company, REC's Industrial and Preventative Maintenance Services, authorities said.
In return, Coker paid Ramsey a $45,244 kickback in February 2009 to secure the work, documents state.
The paperwork is listed as an "information," which takes the place of an indictment and is a formal accusation that a person committed a crime.
As part of their plea agreements, both men waived indictment in the case and agreed to plead guilty.
Both face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to the plea agreements. Both will be sentenced at a later date.
Force Protection played a key role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with its armored, V-hulled troop transports that are designed to withstand mine blasts. Its vehicle models include the Buffalo, the Cougar and the smaller Ocelot.
General Dynamics Corp. bought the company for $360 million in December 2011 and folded the business into its Land Systems unit.