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U.S. Gets $16M Refund for Overpriced Jet Tools

(CN) - Lockheed Martin will pay $15.85 million to settle claims that it overcharged the government for tools used on fighter jets, the Justice Department said Friday.

The Bethesda, Md.,-based company is one of the world's largest defense contractors.

Prosecutors said Lockheed Martin bought overpriced military aircraft tools from a subcontractor between 1998 and 2005, and that Lockheed Martin passed these costs on to the United States. The perishable tools are used on F-22 and F-35 fighter jets, among other aircraft.

A former president of the Tools & Metals subcontractor, Todd Loftis, pleaded guilty in 2005 and was sentenced to seven years in prison in connection for the overpricing scheme.

In a subsequent civil suit, the United States claimed that Lockheed Martin violated the False Claims Act by not adequately overseeing its subcontractor's pricing. Two whistle-blowers, Robert Spencer and John Becker, will split a $2 million share of the government's recovery. Their suits were consolidated in Dallas federal court.

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