The owner and a top executive at a Boynton Beach-based security manufacturing firm have been charged in Virginia with multiple counts of fraud after prosecutors said they sold substandard body armor to the United States government.
Dan Thomas Lounsbury Jr., owner of Tactical Products Group, and Andres Lopez-Munoz, vice president of sales and federal contracting for the company, were officially charged last week with one count of conspiracy to defraud the government and two counts of wire fraud. Lounsbury is additionally charged with two counts of making false, fictitious or fraudulent claims.
A jury trial, that both sides agreed will be complicated because classified information is involved, is set for Dec. 17 in Alexandria. If convicted, both face maximum 20-year sentences. They were released on their own recognizance and the firm remains open.
Lounsbury, 50, is friends with former Palm Beach Gardens Police Officer Nouman Raja, who is charged with manslaughter in the 2015 fatal shooting of stranded motorist Corey Jones. Lounsbury gave Raja a job at the security company when the officer was fired from the police department weeks after he opened fire on Jones who was waiting for a tow truck on the PGA Boulevard exit ramp of Interstate 95.
In a statement, Lounsbury’s lawyers denied the government’s allegations that he and Lopez-Munoz substituted inferior body armor and then tried to pass it off as its more durable — and lifesaving — counterpart.
“Dan has dedicated much of his professional life to serving our nation — both in uniform and in other government positions — and would never allow his company to sell a product he believed was unsafe,” attorneys Tim Belevetz and John Brownlee wrote. “He will vigorously defend himself against these charges and looks forward to his full exoneration.”
According to the Virginia indictment, Lounsbury and Lopez-Munoz sacrificed the safety of the body armor for profits. Working as a subcontractor for a firm that had won a contract with an unidentified federal agency, they bought less bullet-resistant body armor from another company and put phony labels on it so it would appear to meet the requirements of the government contract, federal prosecutors said.
“By chance do you have anything a little cheaper …. ? ” Lopez-Munoz wrote one body armor supplier in an email shared with Lounsbury, according to the indictment. “Budget is a big deal on this requirement more so than the exact plate.”
But, prosecutors said, providing the exact plates in the bulletproof vest was key. The government specifically wanted armor that was “designed to stop .30-caliber steel-core armor-piercing bullets fired from a rifle” and made it clear no substitutions would be allowed, prosecutors wrote. Instead, Tactical Products Group provided less rugged armor and put phony labels in the 10 sets of armor in an attempt to fool federal officials. It sent out a bill for $3,500 for the 10 sets.
“Lounsbury and Lopez-Munoz both knew that these plates would be used to protect government personnel,” prosecutors wrote. “The consequences of a failure of body armor is death or serious bodily injury.”