A Grand Junction-based weapons manufacturer, Capco LLC, has settled allegations that it supplied sub-standard grenade launchers to the US Army.
The case came to light thanks to a former quality engineer at the company, James Cole, who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Capco. Cole said Capco retaliated by laying him off five months later.
Federal investigators subsequently found that the M320 grenade launchers supplied by the company between July 2016 and March 2018 didn't meet the terms of their contract the army. The weapons had the wrong barrels and some also had firing pins made with the wrong type of steel.
“We entrust our defense contractors to manufacture equipment of the highest quality for the men and women who serve our country in the U.S. Armed Forces,” U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn said.
Capco has agreed to pay $1,025,429 to settle the case without admitting wrongdoing.
“As a company, this chapter has made us smarter and stronger,” Capco CEO Cordell Bennigson said. He added that the company has improved its quality and compliance systems.
Under the False Claims Act, which encourages people to report fraud by awarding them a share of any penalty, Cole is due around $235,000 of the settlement.
According to its website, Capco was founded just over fifty years ago and employs close to 400 people in Grand Junction. The company supplies equipment to the military and the defense industry, law enforcement, aerospace programs, and the oil and gas industry.