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Company shipped defective bullets to Homeland Security, lawsuit says

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Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, 6:06 p.m.
 

A firearms company knowingly shipped defective bullets to the Department of Homeland Security in 2007, a former quality inspector says in a federal lawsuit unsealed Thursday in Johnstown.

Jeffrey Campbell of Bellwood, Blair County, says in the 2010 lawsuit that he was fired April 23, 2007, from his position at the National Firearms Training and Tactical Training Unit in Altoona for refusing to stay silent about the problem.

The lawsuit claims that 30 to 40 percent of the lots of ammo provided by Federal Cartridge Co., a subsidiary of Alliant Techsystems Inc. of Minneapolis, failed to pass government specifications but were still distributed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices around the country.

A company spokeswoman couldn't be reached for comment.

The defects included rounds with light gunpowder loads, causing bullets to stick in gun barrels, the lawsuit says. They also included heavy loads that caused bullets to damage guns, the lawsuit says.

In some cases the shells had no gunpowder and in at least one case, the projectile part of the bullet was inserted backward into the cartridge, the lawsuit says.

Campbell said the defects were so prevalent that he and other employees worried about the rounds continuing to ship to field offices because they were dangerous.

“They did not understand how and why the ammunition continued to be released,” the lawsuit says.

As reports of misfires came in from the field, the company recalled some of the ammo but replaced it with rounds from other lots that had failed quality tests, the lawsuit says.

Campbell sued on behalf of the United States under a federal statute allowing private citizens to seek recovery of fraudulently obtained federal funds in return for a share of the money. The contract for the ammunition was worth up to $90 million, the lawsuit says.

The Justice Department in July elected to intervene in the case and filed the motion Wednesday to partly unseal it. The motion to unseal says that the government and company have reached a settlement on everything except attorneys' fees.

David Weiner, one of Campbell's lawyers, said he would have to check with the U.S. Attorney's Office before talking about the case. The U.S. Attorney's Office declined comment.

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