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Owner and four senior managers sentenced to prison over Louisiana military explosives conspiracy

03 December 2018

A US court has sentenced five senior personnel of Explo Systems Inc. to between two and five years in prison for a criminal conspiracy involving military explosives. The company, which won a contract for munitions disposal, improperly stored them at the Camp Minden Louisiana National Guard facility. This led to a huge explosion in 2012 that caused the evacuation of the nearby town of Doyline.

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Explo Systems had won an $8.6 million Army contract in 2010 to disassemble, empty, and recycle 1.35 million propelling charges of the explosive material M6 at Camp Minden. The company then leased an underground bunker and land at Camp Minden where it stored the explosives, much of it in bags in the open, according to state police.

On October 15, 2012, the munitions exploded. The blast shattered windows within a four mile radius, derailed 11 rail cars, and caused the evacuation of the nearby town of Doyline, Louisiana. National Weather Service radar showed a 7,200-foot smoke plume above the site.

Explo Systems filed for bankruptcy in 2013, abandoning 7,800 tons of M6 at Camp Minden. The National Guard subsequently hired another company to remove the leftover waste at a cost of $38 million.

US District Judge Elizabeth Foote ruled that the men misled the Army about their ability to properly dispose of the materials. This included falsifying documents and certificates, and preventing authorities from inspecting their operations.

Explo Systems co-owner David Alan Smith was sentenced to 55 months in prison, three years of supervised release, and a payment of $34,798,761 in restitution to the federal government.

The others—vice president of operations William Terry Wright; program manager Kenneth Wayne Lampkin; traffic and inventory control manager Lionel Wayne Koons; and director of support technology Charles Ferris Callihan—will all serve between 2 and 5 years in prison, paying a combined total of $598,000 in restitution.

All of the defendants pleaded guilty. The second co-owner of Explo Systems, David Fincher, died before the trial could start.

The Environmental Protection Agency joined the US Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, the Department of Defense, the US Army, the Department of Transportation, the FBI, and Louisiana State Police in bringing the case to court.

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