- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 22, 2016

A company that has done business with the U.S. military since the 1960s is now accused of selling the federal government “Made In America” boots that were really manufactured in China.

Wellco Enterprises, which was taken over by investment firms in 2008, is accused of ripping off the government to the tune of $8.1 million from December 2008 to August 2012. An indictment against the company’s executives was unsealed by the U.S. District Court in Greeneville, Tennessee, on Sept. 13.

Vincent Lee Ferguson, Wellco’s CEO, along with four other family members and associates, are accused of one count of conspiring to commit wire fraud, seven counts of wire fraud, one count of “major fraud” of the government and one count of smuggling goods in the U.S., the Knoxville News Sentinel reported Tuesday.

Mr. Ferguson, 65, made Wellco Enterprises a subsidiary of Tactical Holdings Operation Inc., upon taking over the company, which then moved operations from Waynesville, N.C., to Morristown, Tenn., in 2009.

The “major supplier of footwear” to the Department of Defense then allegedly had boot “uppers” made in China with “Made in USA” tags. A “tearaway” China label was removed once the product arrived in the U.S.

Prosecutors charge that some boots were also manufactured in Peru and the Dominican Republic.

The five executives are out on $20,000 bond each, the Sentinel reported. A trial is set for Nov. 1.

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