Five executives with a former leading manufacturer of U.S. military boots have been sentenced in federal court for saying the boots were made in Tennessee when they were actually produced in China.
According to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court, the actual Chinese manufacturer of the boots was told to include "USA" on the label of Wellco boot uppers that were then shipped to the U.S. The "Made in China" tags were removed, the indictment says. Soles were affixed to the boots at Wellco's plant in Morristown, Tennessee, and elsewhere, according to the document.
From 2006 through 2012, the U.S. Department of Defense paid at least $138 million to Wellco for military footwear, according to the indictment.
A sixth executive, Vincent Ferguson, who was the company's president and CEO, will be sentenced later this year, according to the newspaper.
All six previously pleaded guilty in the case, court records show.
Ferguson and two others pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Two others pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into the U.S., and one other executive to aiding and abetting the altering of country of origin marks, according to their plea agreements filed in court in January.
Also pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud were Ferguson's sons, Wellco’s former senior vice president of sales, Matthew Lee Ferguson, 41, of Geneva, Illinois; and the company's former director of marketing and communications, Kerry Joseph Ferguson, 36, of Houston, Texas, according to the release.
Wellco’s former vice president of government contracting, Neil Streeter, 55, of Warren, Massachusetts, and former operations manager Stephanie Lynn (Ferguson) Kaemmerer, 45, of Knoxville, pleaded guilty to smuggling goods into the United States. She is Vincent Ferguson's daughter.
Matthew Harrison Martland, former director of distribution and logistics, aiding and abetting the altering of county of origin marks, the Times News reported.
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