A civilian Navy official scored a nearly $2 million dollar contract for his ne'er-do-well mechanic brother to illegally produce "unmarked and untraceable" silencers for AK-47s, patterned after car mufflers, allegedly to sell to the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden, according to federal court documents and a Washington Post article published today.
To the government, Mark Landersman was the president of Advanced Machining and Engineering, which sounds like your typical boring Uncle Sam widget contractor. But according to documents filed by U.S. prosecutors in a Virginia court, he was also "a down-on-his-luck mechanic who struggled to keep his Temecula repair shop in business" and declared bankruptcy last year. Apparently his side business, an apparel label for the the grammatically challenged California hot-rod set called REDNECK INJUNEARIN, wasn't doing so hot.
But Landersman had one thing going for him: His brother, David, was a senior planner for the Navy's operations. Over email, the pair allegedly discussed how easily Mark could manufacture silencers for military operations, using DIY instructions they'd found online. “Wow! Very simple,” Mark told his bro.
Shortly after, David Landersman secured a $2 million contract for silencers to CACI, a well-known Beltway contractor for the military, and he told his contacts at the company to buy their stuff from his brother's newly-minted machining firm for $1.6 million, without seeking lower bidders.
They apparently agreed to do so, and Mark Landersman went on a high-tech redneck "shopping spree," according to the court documents:
He bought stock shares in a microbrewery for $100,000, a restored 1988 Porsche 911 for $49,084, an off-road racing vehicle for $15,000, a Ford Ranger for $40,000, a red 2013 Ford F-150 Raptor pickup truck for $59,294 and a $5,760 welder.
There was, of course, the minor matter of making the silencers. Mark told one of his mechanics, Carlos Robles, to make 349 "small-engine mufflers" from a provided blueprint. The result was a cache of silencers for AK-47 military rifles — silencers that were "unmarked and untraceable, despite a federal law requiring all firearm manufacturers to imprint them with a serial number and the name of the maker."
Who in the United States' sea service could possibly have any use for untraceable metal cylinders that deafen the noise of Russian-made assault weapons? One of the Navy officials embroiled in the affair told investigators they were for Seal Team Six, the steely-eyed killers of Al Qaeda's top dog.
Robles knew none of this according to the court documents. When told by the Post that his "small-engine mufflers" had made his boss millions and were intended to be used by American government killers in black helicopters, he replied: "Are you kidding me?"
[Photo credit: Flickr Commons/felixtsao]