Testimony delved into the minutiae of contracts Tuesday as the fraud case against a former defense contractor headed into its second day of a trial in U.S. District Court in Danville.
Prosecution witnesses testified throughout the contracting process there were assurances of trucks to be delivered by both William Whyte, owner and CEO of the now-defunct Armet Armoured Vehicles, and Frank Skinner, the company’s president.
Both men promised contracting officers that Armet would be able to meet the delivery schedule, according to testimony, but starting in summer of 2006, emails between the contracting officers and Armet revealed questions about progress payments to help pay for the 32 chassis and glass for the vehicles.
That October, an email from Whyte to Maj. Kevin Bayless, who signed for the vehicles, stated: “In a nutshell, we can produce all vehicles in four months with money in advance. Without that, frankly it’s a lost cause.”
These discussions were passed on to the contracting officers in charge, which from March to July was contracting officer Master Sgt. Orlando Guerrero. Skinner requested a 40-percent deposit in a contract revision of the original contract for 24 vehicles. But Guerrero did not approve it because the contract and price was for full vehicles, not for the supplies that go into making those vehicles.
Armet, now defunct, once had a manufacturing plant in Danville and was headquartered in Ontario, Canada, where Whyte lives — he had to be extradited here in September 2016
Bayless, testifying of his duties via video conference from his hurricane-ravaged home in Houston, Texas, explained: “My responsibility was to make sure we got the equipment and to make sure the Iraqis were trained on it before we handed it over to them.”
He signed for the four trucks that arrived in Baghdad in the fall of 2006 and inspected them. The delivery inspection was essentially a walk around – checking to make sure the tires had air in them, that the vehicles had fluid in them, and making sure it ran.
Every version of the solicited quotes and contracts stated that “if a smaller blast [than an anti-personnel grenade] can penetrate the vehicle, then it does not meet our requirements.”
Bayless testified he did not test the trucks under fire, because he “didn’t want to explain to the colonel why I shot a brand new truck.”
Retired Master Sgt. Michael Hollon, one of the contracting officers, testified that the government had the ability, per the contract, to audit and test the vehicles they had ordered during production, but that to his knowledge, that had not been done.
Testified Bayless: “If I knew a vehicle was defective, I would not have ridden in it. I would not have let my people ride in it.”
The court will be a recess Wednesday and trial will continue on Thursday.