As part of a deal with prosecutors, the former owner and general manager of Sparta-based defense contractor Allied Components LLC entered a guilty plea Wednesday to charges including sending sensitive military technical information to India, said New Jersey U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.
Robert Luba, 47, who lives in Sparta, made the admission in District Court in Trenton. He also pleaded guilty to sending faulty aircraft parts to the U.S. Department of Defense. He admitted making a false claim upon the DoD by providing non-conforming “wing-pins,” manufactured in India, for the F-15 fighter aircraft, even though he was contracted to provide a U.S.-made product.
Luba admitted violating the Arms Export Control Act as well by giving India information about a component of a nuclear-powered submarine without getting approval from the U.S. Department of State.
“The conduct admitted by Luba shows a callous disregard for the safety of our armed forces,” Fishman said. “By recklessly providing sub-standard parts for sophisticated weapons systems and sharing sensitive information with a foreign state, Luba not only jeopardized the lives of men and women on the front lines of our national defense, he put all Americans at risk, all in the name of making a buck.”
According to documents filed in the case and statements made in court, Allied Components had contracts to supply the defense department with defense hardware items and spare parts.
In October 2011, Luba began using One Source USA LLC as a source of defense hardware items and spare parts, which Allied Components would in turn provide to the DoD.
On Feb. 7, 2012, Luba submitted a bid for a contract with the DoD to supply U.S.-made wing pins for the F-15 combat aircraft and won the contract. Two months later, he received an international Federal Express delivery of the wing pins from India at his Sparta home. Despite knowing that the wing pins were made in India, he shipped these foreign-made wing-pins to the DoD and accepted payment for them.
On Oct. 10, 2012, the DoD sent an urgent email to Luba, notifying him that the wing pins he delivered were not of the hardness required under the contract. Luba requested a certification of the materials used to build the wing pins, as well as inspection records, for the defense department. One Source USA sent Luba the records, which listed only a New Jersey address for the company. Two days later, Luba reportedly sent these "false and misleading" certifications and inspection records to a contracting officer at the DoD, according to a statement from the state's attorney's office.
The wing pin issue forced the Air Force to ground 47 F-15 fighter aircraft for inspection and repair and cost taxpayers about $166,000.
Luba also admitted that he emailed technical blueprints protected under national export control laws to a contact in India associated with One Source USA and said he failed to obtain the necessary license from the state department in connection with the e-mails.
Luba was released on an unsecured appearance bond and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 19, 2014. He could receive a maximum combined penalty of 25 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to pay back approximately $173,000 to the Department of Defense, which includes the cost of repair for the grounded F-15s.