US government investigators are looking into the actions of three Navy intelligence officials accused of conducting a contracting scheme that charged the Navy nearly $2 million for equipment that may have cost just $8,000 to produce.
Each of the three officials are civilians charged with heading highly classified programs. According to a Wednesday report in the Washington Post, they organized a contract with a California mechanic to build an order of special unmarked and untraceable gun silencers for $8,000, and then sell those silencers to the Navy for $1.6 million.
The equipment is so secret that what they are used for was not immediately clear. Court papers indicate that one of the suspects told a witness in the case that the rifle accessories would be used by Navy SEAL Team 6 - the same group that assassinated Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in 2011.
None of the three - whose names have been redacted in most court documents - have yet been charged with a crime, but the investigation is ongoing. Le Hall, a long-time defense official, and David W. Landersman, the senior director for intelligence in the Navy’s directorate for plans, policy, oversight and integration intelligence, have been named as two of the three suspects.
“I’m confident that he did nothing wrong and will be fully exonerated,” Stephen Ryan, the attorney representing Landersman, told the Post. He added that Landersman had served in Somalia and multiple tours in Iraq.
This revelation is the second Navy corruption scandal to enter the headlines in recent weeks. Multiple officers, including two admirals, are under investigation in an unrelated bribery scandal.
Vice Admiral Ted Branch, the director of naval intelligence, and Rear Admiral Bruce F. Loveless, the director of intelligence operations, had their access to classified materials suspended Friday.
Each of them, along with three others holding lesser ranks, allegedly provided information about the Navy – including ship movements and travel expectations – to Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia in exchange for money, prostitutes, and concert tickets, among other gifts.