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Archive for Thursday, February 5, 2004

Former commissioner ordered to prison, $5 million restitution

February 5, 2004

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— A former Galena city commissioner was sentenced to prison and ordered to pay $5.05 million in restitution in a case involving defective O-rings his company provided for military airplanes, U.S. Atty. Eric Melgren said Wednesday.

Clarence T. Brandenburg was convicted by a jury in October of destroying evidence during a government investigation into his company, L&T Seals, then lying about it to a grand jury.

Jurors deliberated for six hours before finding him guilty of conspiracy to obstruct an investigation, obstructing an investigation and perjury.

In addition to the restitution, U.S. District Judge Monti L. Belot sentenced Brandenburg on Jan. 26 to 21 months in federal prison, without parole, followed by three years of supervised release.

The case stems from a Defense Department probe into L&T Seals, which was providing defective O-rings to the department.

Prosecutors contended Brandenburg and his wife, Elesa, burned company records after investigators requested them, and Brandenburg then committed perjury when he testified before a grand jury that the records had been destroyed in a flood.

According to testimony, the O-rings and seals supplied by his company did not comply with military specifications. L&T Seals purchased them in bulk from commercial manufacturers, and then repackaged each O-ring and seal individually and affixed a label which falsely identified them as meeting military specifications.

Brandenburg resigned from the Galena City Commission, citing medical reasons, while under investigation by the Defense Department.

While there were no accidents connected to the defective O-rings, they did cause problems, said Department of Justice attorney Peter Loewenberg.

The O-rings caused a fuel leak on a B-1 bomber, damaging a missile launcher, and also caused fuel leaks on a number of C-130 transport planes.

The Defense Department found and replaced all the defective O-rings and seals on military airplanes and purged the parts from its inventory.

Elesa Brandenburg pleaded guilty in July 2003 to one count of conspiracy to obstruct an investigation. She was already serving a 30-month federal sentence for mail fraud at the time of her Sept. 23 sentencing, when she was given an additional 15 months in federal prison, without parole.

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