NEW ORLEANS – Federal prosecutors in northwest Louisiana unsealed a 32-count indictment Wednesday against owners and officials of a company accused of leaving 7,800 tons of potentially explosive artillery propellant at a Louisiana National Guard facility.
The indictment names Explo Systems Inc. owners David Perry Fincher, 68, of Burns, Tennessee, and David Alan Smith, 61, of Winchester, Kentucky, and four company officials from northwest Louisiana: William Terry Wright, 62, of Bossier City, Charles Ferris Callihan, 66, of Shreveport, and Kenneth Wayne Lampkin, 64, and Lionel Wayne Koons, 57, both of Haughton.
The indictment includes allegations that they lied to get and keep a military contract to “demilitarize” the M6 artillery propellant, and that they stored the propellant unsafely and obstructed inspections at Camp Minden.
All six are charged with criminal conspiracy. Callihan is also charged with one count of lying to a federal agency. The other five face six counts each of wire fraud and more than 20 counts each of making false statements.
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Arraignment is scheduled for Sept. 19. Attorneys Ron Miciotto and Donald Hathaway Jr. say their clients are innocent. Miciotto represents Fincher and Hathaway represents vice president of operations Wright.
The indictment was handed up last week, said Henri LeJeune, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Shreveport.
The false statement count against Callihan accuses him of telling the Occupational Safety and Health Administration that the M6 was stored only in magazines when he knew that wasn’t true.
Louisiana State Police began investigating the company in 2012, after an explosion in one of Explo’s leased bunkers shattered windows 4 miles away in Minden and created a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud. They found the M6 and 160 tons of clean-burning igniter and the M6, much of it in bags in the open.
Explo Systems, which leased space from the National Guard’s industrial site at Camp Minden, went bankrupt in August 2013 and abandoned the site.
False statement counts against the other five accuse them of submitting government forms claiming they had sold large amounts of demilitarized M6 to various purported buyers. One of those companies was falsely described as buying nearly 3.3 million tons in 17 installments ranging from 114,000 to 278,500 pounds, according to the indictment.
The wire fraud charges accuse them of emailing those forms to the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Munitions Command.
Explo’s contract required it to sell or otherwise dispose of M6 within a year of getting it out of the artillery rounds, the indictment said.
Koons is accused separately of lying to the Joint Munitions Command by emailing a request to stop sending propellant to Camp Minden because of an annual audit by state police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The real reason, according to the indictment, was that state police were searching the premises and had ordered Explo to stop accepting propellant because it was out of storage space.