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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Courthouse News Service
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Workers Allege Fraud in Defense Parts

NEW ORLEANS (CN) - "U.S. soldiers have been injured" because Alliance Laser knowingly sold defective parts for military assault vehicles, and it fired two workers for reporting it, the men claim in Federal Court.

Alliance Laser, based in Slidell, La. makes parts that Textron uses to make M1117 assault vehicles.

One plaintiff, a welder, claims that "Alliance concealed M1117 part defects from Textron and the U.S. by filling holes and cracks with Bondo putty filler, sandblasting the defective parts, and painting over the defective parts.

"Upon information and belief, U.S. soldiers have been injured due to Alliance's provision, and concealment, of defective M1117 parts."

Floyd Alan Williams and Robert Vargas fired separate complaints against Alliance Laser.

Williams says he was a welder until he was fired on a pretext after he asked about licensing requirements for welders working with aluminum and steel.

Vargas, a quality control inspector, claims he was fired for refusing to ignore the faulty parts.

The U.S. military uses the M1117s in combat, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. The plaintiffs claim no Alliance employee was certified to weld aluminum or steel for the M1117s that Textron sold to the Pentagon.

"Williams told Alliance supervisor Jeremy Noller [that] Alliance's failure to employ certified welders was a violation of law," Williams says in his complaint.

Noller is not a defendant. The only defendant in both cases in Alliance Laser Inc.

According to his complaint: "Williams told Noller that Alliance welders employing a downhill welding technique made defective nearly all Alliance welded parts installed in M1117s, when Alliance knew those parts needed fully penetrating welds, was a violation of law.

"Noller told Williams and others that Alliance did not affix fully penetrated welds on

M1117 parts to increase Alliance's profit margin.

"To save Williams' job, Alliance told Williams to ask no questions about the legality of Alliance selling defective parts made by uncertified welders to Textron for installation in M1117s sold to the United States."

Textron believed that Alliance used certified welders, Williams says, and Alliance did nothing to dissuade them: "Alliance made, used and presented, records, statements, and claims that asserted Alliance welders were certified to weld parts for installation in M1117s parts.

"Alliance presented claims to Textron for M1117 parts it knew were defective.

"Alliance quality control inspectors affixed red tags to M1117 parts to indicate the part did not meet specifications and was defective.

"Alliance supervisors removed those red tags from defective M1117 parts and shipped those parts to Textron.

"Alliance presented claims, records, and statements to Textron that each defective part rejected by quality control was within M1117 specifications.

"Alliance concealed M1117 part defects from Textron and the U.S. by filling holes and cracks with Bondo putty filler, sandblasting the defective parts, and painting over the defective parts.

"Upon information and belief, U.S. soldiers have been injured due to Alliance's provision, and concealment, of defective M1117 parts.

"Williams, repeatedly protested to Alliance's supervisors, managers and owners, including Noller, that selling defective M1117 parts was in violation of Alliance's contract with Textron, and Textron's contract with the U.S.

"Alliance told Williams if he contacted Textron, or any government agency about the misconduct alleged in this complaint, his job would be terminated

"Alliance retaliated against Williams for reporting Noller's misconduct to Textron and Alliance."

Not only that, Williams says: "Noller told Williams that if Williams' house was blown up, Williams' body would not be found, and Williams could not testify against Noller or Alliance.

"Noller made false statements of fact about Williams that caused Louisiana to pursue criminal theft charges against Williams.

"Noller told Williams that Williams would suffer physical harm if Williams testified that Alliance discriminated and retaliated against him for reporting and trying to stop Alliance's misconduct alleged in this complaint.

"Williams provided information to the U.S. Department of Defense, FBI, U.S. Attorney's office, and U.S. Attorney General to stop Alliance's misconduct alleged in this complaint.

"Alliance discriminated and retaliated against Williams for providing information to federal authorities regarding Alliance's misconduct.

"Alliance discriminated and retaliated against Williams for refusing to participate in Alliance's misconduct."

Vargas makes substantially the same allegations in his complaint: "Alliance told Vargas to keep his mouth shut and stop disclosing the illegal acts if he wanted to keep his job.

"Vargas put red rejection tags on defective M1117 parts.

"Alliance removed these red rejection tags and sold the noncompliant parts to Textron and ultimately to the U.S.

"Alliance concealed its noncompliant parts by covering bad porous cracks in the welding with Bondo filler.

"These cracks were caused by the illegal downhill welds affixed to the parts by Alliance's uncertified welders.

"Alliance further concealed its noncompliant parts by sandblasting and painting over the cracks before and after the Bondo filler dried.

"Alliance then affixed green acceptance tags placed on those rejected parts and sold them to Textron and ultimately the U.S.

"Alliance would take the concealed defective parts and pepper a shipment containing nondefective parts to further conceal the defective parts.

"Alliance supervisor, Jeremy Noller (Noller), got mad and shouted at Vargas each time Vargas red tagged and rejected defective work on parts sold to Textron for M1117 assault vehicles.

"Noller told Vargas that Vargas must approve defective parts to help the company."

Vargas adds that "Noller told Vargas if Alliance complied with the law and contracts by welding the parts with proper horizontal jigs, Alliance would not make any money on the Textron contract, or from the U.S. consuming the M1117s."

Both men seek an injunction and back pay, front pay and damages for whistleblower retaliation, False Claims Act retaliation, employer retaliation, humiliation and loss of enjoyment of life.

They are represented by Glenn McGovern of Metairie.

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