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Exec with Murtha ties took kickbacks, feds say

/ Source: staff and news service reports

A former executive for a defense contractor with ties to Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha has been charged by federal prosecutors with taking about $200,000 in kickbacks from a subcontractor.

Richard Ianieri, of Doylestown, Pa., served as president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corp., the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The government alleges Ianieri received checks which were "provided for the purpose of improperly obtaining and rewarding favorable treatment ... relating to a government prime contract."

He is accused of accepting two kickbacks of about $100,000 each from a subcontractor — identified only as "K" — while he was an officer of Coherent Systems International Corp.

In an April 2006 news release, Murtha announced that Coherent and Kuchera Defense Systems were working "virtually as one company" on 14 contracts worth $30 million to develop high-tech military gear. At the time, both companies had offices in Windber, near Murtha's home base of Johnstown.

Kuchera has given thousands of dollars to Murtha's campaign and political action committee. He has given the company millions of dollars in earmarks.

FBI raid
The company, owned by brothers William and Ronald Kuchera, has received $14.7 million in Murtha earmarks in the past two years. It and another company, Kuchera Industries Inc., have received $53 million in federal contracts in this decade alone.

In January, FBI agents and Pentagon investigators raided Kuchera Defense Systems' offices. No criminal charges are known to have been filed as a result. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan in Pittsburgh has confirmed the raids related to an investigation by her office, but refused to say whether Murtha was part of the inquiry.

Dennis McGlynn, the Johnstown attorney who represents the Kucheras, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he didn't know anything about the charge filed against Ianieri. He said he has heard nothing about any continuing investigation into the Kuchera companies or Murtha since the January raid.

Ianieri did not answer two phone calls to his home in Doylestown, near Philadelphia. He didn't immediately return a message left on an answering machine after a third call Tuesday.

A spokesman at Murtha's office in Washington, D.C., also declined to comment on the charge.

Ianieri was president and chief executive officer of Coherent until it was sold to Fairfax, Va.-based Argon ST in August 2007, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ianieri was a vice president at Argon until last year.

Ianieri was charged via a federal criminal information, which typically indicates that a defendant is cooperating with prosecutors.

Argon officials did not immediately return messages left at the company's offices in Windber and Doylestown and did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press.

According to Murtha's 2006 news release, Coherent and Kuchera worked together on a "sophisticated electronic precision targeting and communications system" for the Air Force. The device was being used in Iraq. Murtha said Coherent had 35 employees and the Kuchera companies 325.

In April, the Navy suspended the Kucheras and their companies for "alleged fraud" including multiple instances of incorrect charges, along with allegations of defective pricing and ethical violations. Kuchera is appealing the suspension.

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