By DAVID GREEN
Owners of Morenci’s Roth Fabricating, Inc., are looking toward a future of growth and increased employment as they move away from an incident that occurred more than four years ago.
A lengthy legal case was resolved in federal court Dec. 19, bringing to an end an investigation into certain parts produced for the military during the 2007-08 time period.
The outcome of the case resulted in custodial sentences for the two owners of the business—Shane Sarnac and Simone Haas—plus a financial restitution.
Roth’s first foray into military supply started in 2007 with the fabrication of M-16 rifle racks for placement on Humvees. By the start of 2008, the company produced nearly 200 items for the military, including engine stands, missile transport frames, interior tank parts and tank tool trays.
Roth was honored by the Procurement Technical Assistance Center as the Lenawee County Government Contractor of the Year for 2007 and was among three companies considered for the state honor.
At the same time, Roth maintained contracts with several commercial firms, including many within the county.
Defense Department engineers discovered that some of Roth’s parts failed to meet required specifications.
“Government contracts require strict adherence to specifications,” said attorney George Donnini of the Butzel Long law firm that represents Roth. “In the end, certain of their final products did not comply.”
The company owners did not go into the manufacture of military supplies with any bad intentions, Donnini added. He characterized Roth’s predicament as “getting in over their heads” in the effort to fill military orders.
In federal court in Columbus, Ohio, Dec. 19, Sarnac apologized for mistakes made and said he and his company are working hard to make amends.
Sarnac pled guilty in January 2012 to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud—a charge made by the military because payments for goods were sent by wire to Roth.
He received a custodial sentence of 15 months in a federal prison camp. His sister and co-owner, Simone Haas, pled guilty to the same charge and was sentenced in May. She is currently serving her 15-month sentence in a federal camp.
The judge ordered the restitution of $825,000 and the defendants have paid about half of that amount. The remainder is to be paid in equal installments over a five-year period. The company was also fined $25,000.
Due to a plea agreement, the judge is allowing Sarnac’s sentence to begin after Haas’s ends in order for one of them to be able to lead the company.
“Our goal was to ensure the future viability of the company and the government shared in that goal,” Donnini said.
Donnini stated that Roth has made great strides in recovering from the incident.
“The company has come a long way since then,” he said. “Their commercial business has steadily increased and they’re picking up new customers which is allowing them to add more employees. The goal is to keep the company moving forward and keep people in the local community employed.”