Weco Aerospace Used Paperclip to Fix Aircraft, U.S. Says

Weco Aeropace Systems Inc. technicians used unapproved parts, including in one instance a paperclip, to repair aircraft, federal prosecutors alleged in an indictment charging former executives with fraud.

Ex-owner William Weygandt and four other former executives at Weco, a Lincoln, California-based government certified aircraft repair station acquired in 2007 by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., were charged with conspiracy to commit fraud in a revised indictment today, U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner in Sacramento, California, said in an e-mail.

The executives regularly allowed technicians to use unapproved parts in repairs, Wagner said. A supervisor in 2007 used a paperclip instead of an approved part to fix a windshield wiper motor, and then returned that part to the customer after certifying that the repair had been done properly, prosecutors said in court documents.

Weco repaired converters, which supply electrical power to systems on an aircraft, and other components, prosecutors said. The company didn’t have equipment to perform tests required before parts can be certified as fixed, they said.

Craig Denney, an attorney for Weygandt, 63, of Granite Bay, California, didn’t immediately return a phone message seeking comment on the revised indictment. Other company executives were first charged last year.

Weco repaired helicopters, Lauren Horwood, a spokeswoman for Wagner, said in an e-mail. There have been no known instances in which a fraudulent Weco repair resulted in an accident, prosecutors said. None of the defendants is currently employed at Weco, prosecutors said.

Gulfstream, based in Savannah, Georgia, has fully cooperated with law enforcement in the investigation and the alleged conduct occurred prior to Gulfstream’s acquisition of Weco, prosecutors said.

Heidi Fedak, a spokeswoman for Gulfstream, a unit of General Dynamics Corp., declined to comment on the indictment.

The indictment couldn’t immediately be confirmed in court records.

The case is U.S. v Kuwata, 11-429, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento).

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