A former aluminum extrusion plant production manager was charged Thursday for his role in a decade-long scheme to defraud NASA.
Dennis Merkel, 71, of Portland, Oregon, was indicted on two counts of major fraud against the government, the U.S. Department of Justice said. He will be arraigned on April 30 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
Between May 1996 and December 2006, Mr. Merkel is alleged to have falsified test results on hundreds of occasions, according to court records. The fraudulent test results were used to certify mechanical properties for parts manufactured by his employer to conceal failed tests, prosecutors said.
The aluminum extrusion was used by NASA for a variety of applications including rockets and military hardware. Court records allege Mr. Merkel and others falsified their test results to increase profits and obtain bonuses which were calculated in part based on a production metric.
NASA’s Inspector General and the FBI’s Portland Field Office investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Jennifer G. Ballantyne and Emily C. Scruggs of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.