A federal judge on Thursday ordered $34.8 million in restitution from the owner of a company that committed what a prosecutor calls the nation’s worst-ever dumping of military explosives — a case stemming from a huge 2012 munitions blast. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote also ordered David Alan Smith to spend 4 years and 7 months in prison.
Smith and four officials of his Explo Systems Inc. were sentenced in Shreveport. The four others drew sentences ranging from 2 to 5 years in prison and were ordered to repay the federal government a total of $598,000.
Explo Systems, which went bankrupt in 2013, had an $8.7 million Army contract to “demilitarize” artillery charges at a Louisiana National Guard facility called Camp Minden.
“The defendants sentenced today used Camp Minden here in northwest Louisiana as the largest illegal dumping ground of military explosives in the history of the United States - at over 15.6 million pounds of explosives,” U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph said in a statement.
“Those who endanger the safety of our community to satisfy their own greed will be held accountable,” he added.
The restitution adds up to $35.4 million. Prosecutors said the restitution to the government includes the $8.7 million contract to demilitarize weapons plus cleanup costs. When the company went under, it left 7,800 tons (7,100 metric tons) of potentially explosive M6 and 160 tons (145 metric tons) of clean-burning igniter, much of it outdoors or otherwise stored unsafely.
It all had to be moved safely to bunkers. Then, after years of debating how to get rid of the M6 and other materials, the National Guard hired Explosive Service International of Baton Rouge for $32 million to design a chamber to capture any pollution and to burn the materials.
Sentenced Thursday were Smith, 63 of Winchester, Kentucky; Vice President of Operations William Terry Wright, 65, of Bossier City, program manager Kenneth Wayne Lampkin, 66, of Haughton; traffic and inventory control manager Lionel Wayne Koons, 59, of Haughton and director of support technology Charles Ferris Callihan, 69, of Shreveport. All had pleaded guilty to charges earlier.
Explo Systems’ contract called for it to “demilitarize” more than 1.3 million artillery charges and safely store and get rid of the components. The company said it planned to sell the M6 propellant for mining.
The investigation began after the thunderous explosion at sprawling Camp Minden, a 15,000-acre (6,100 hectare) site.