IRS agents searching Johnstown defense contractor
A Western Pennsylvania defense contractor with longstanding ties to the late U.S. Rep. John Murtha was raided Tuesday by federal agents who have investigated kickbacks and other crimes involving convicted contractors and lobbyists linked to Murtha.
IRS investigators raided Concurrent Technologies Corp. in Johnstown, according to U.S. Attorney David Hickton. He declined to comment on the underlying investigation.
Murtha, who died in 2010 after decades representing a district based in Johnstown, chaired a powerful House subcommittee that oversaw the Pentagon's budget. Several federal investigations have targeted defense companies that were awarded multimillion-dollar contracts during his tenure, lobbying done on their behalf to be awarded the contracts and donations made to Murtha and other congressional candidates.
Concurrent, also known as CTC, has received hundreds of millions dollars' worth of defense contracts since it was founded as Metalworking Technology Inc. in 1987. The company focuses on defense issues but also does environmental, engineering, energy and other research. It's a nonprofit because most of its research is deemed to be in the public interest, according to its website. Among its projects, CTC recently began working with the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia on ways to produce cheaper pennies.
CTC spokeswoman Mary Bevan confirmed in an email that investigators were at the company's Johnstown facilities but said the company hadn't been told why.
A watchdog group, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, has sued the Justice Department seeking information on a variety of investigations into Murtha and defense firms linked to him, including CTC.
Others the group has sought details on include brothers William and Ronald Kuchera, who pleaded guilty in April to a kickback scheme involving an $8.2 million contract obtained by a Murtha earmark for another company the congressman championed, Kuchera Defense Systems Inc. of Windber.
Federal prosecutors said a contractor involved in the scheme, Coherent Systems International Inc., got the earmarked contract after hiring a lobbying firm that employed Murtha's brother. Kuchera and Coherent have been awarded more than $50 million apiece in defense work since 2000, according to FedSpending.org, a website that tracks government money.
The founder of a contractor involved in the scheme, Coherent Systems International Inc., is serving five years' probation.
CTC and its principals have never been charged criminally, although the Justice Department subpoenaed the company's records in 2008 and prosecuted Paul Magliocchetti, a lobbyist who helped CTC and other Murtha-linked businesses get federal contracts.
Magliocchetti was sentenced in 2011 in Virginia to 27 months in federal prison for illegally funneling more than $380,000 in campaign contributions to Murtha and other House members who controlled the Pentagon's budget. Defense contractors hired his firm to influence Murtha and other key lawmakers who earmarked funds for favored companies.
Magliocchetti acknowledged having relatives, friends and lobbyists write personal checks to support congressional candidates to obscure his influence before reimbursing the donors.