Explo co-owner pleads guilty

Smith facing conspiracy and false statements charges

The co-owner of Explo Systems Inc. pleaded guilty to conspiracy and false statements concerning the storage of munitions at Camp Minden that led to an explosion, acting U.S. Attorney Alexander Van Hook said late Thursday afternoon in a news release.

Explo co-owner David Alan Smith, 62, of Kentucky, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Hornsby to one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of making a false statement. The plea will become final when accepted by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth E. Foote.

He is one of six company officials indicted on federal charges in August 2016. Others include co-owner David Fincher, 69, of Tennessee and managers William Wright, 63, of Bossier City, Kenneth Lampkin, 65, and Lionel Koons, 58, of Haughton and Charles Callihan, 67, of Shreveport on one count of criminal conspiracy, multiple counts of making false statements to federal officials and wire fraud in an alleged scheme to defraud the U.S. Army regarding the storage and disposition of M-6 propellant at Camp Minden.

The status of charges against Fincher, Wright, Lampkin, Koons and Callihan was not mentioned in the news release.
Authorities allege improper storage caused the explosion four years ago that kept some Doyline residents out of their homes for a week and kept lingering fears of another explosion hanging over the community.

Explo Systems Inc. is a private company whose primary business operations involved the demilitarization of military munitions and the subsequent resale of the recovered explosive materials for mining operations.

According to the guilty plea, the U.S. Army awarded Explo a contract on March 24, 2010 to dispose of 450,000 155 mm artillery propelling charges designated as M119A2 for $2,902,500. The Army and Explo officials later amended the contract on March 6, 2012 to dispose of 1,350,000 charges for $8,617,500.

The contract required Explo to properly store and dispose of the demilitarized M-6. The contract also required Explo to document the sale of the demilitarized M-6 by completing an End User Certificate (EUC). On the EUC, the purchaser of the demilitarized M-6 certified the purchase and compliance with applicable federal laws. Once the EUCs were certified, Explo submitted the EUCs to the Army.

On October 15, 2012, an explosion occurred at a munitions storage igloo on Camp Minden. The explosion contained approximately 124,190 pounds of smokeless powder and a box van trailer containing approximately 42,240 pounds of demilitarized M-6. The damage destroyed the igloo and trailer, shattered windows of dwellings within a four-mile radius, and derailed 11 rail cars near the storage igloo.

As part of the guilty plea, Smith agreed that he conspired with others to defraud the United States by impeding federal, state and local authorities from properly monitoring the operations at Explo’s Camp Minden facility. Smith also agreed that he conspired with others to submit false end use certificates in order to obtain money to which he was not entitled.

Smith faces five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine for each count. As part of the plea agreement, Smith agreed that he owes restitution in the amount of $35,398,761.

The Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation, Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, FBI and the Louisiana State Police-Emergency Service Unit investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Earl M. Campbell is prosecuting the case.

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