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Florida Woman Pleads Guilty to Fake Military Parts Scheme

Any component failure could have rendered end systems inoperable.

The Department of Justice announced on May 8 that a Florida woman pleaded guilty to a scheme that involved fraudulently procuring government contracts to supply critical military components to the Department of Defense.

The woman, Yuksel Senbol, pleaded guilty to 25 felony counts, including violating the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Control Reform Act, money laundering and wire fraud. 

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    According to the DOJ release, beginning around April 2019, Senbol operated a company named Mason Engineering Parts, which she used as a front to help a pair of co-conspirators named Onur Simsek and Mehmet Ozcan get government contracts.

    The contracts involved components for military use, including Navy aircraft carriers and submarines, Marine Corps armored vehicles and Army battle tanks. Given that numerous parts were classified as “critical application items,” any component failure could have rendered the end system inoperable.

    To secure the contracts, Senbol told the government and military contractors that Mason Engineering Parts was a qualified producer of military components. However, its parts were being made by Simsek and Ozcan in Turkey. In addition to the false representation, Simsek’s identity was concealed because he had been debarred from contracting with the U.S. after a conviction of a similar scheme in Florida.

    Senbol would then provide sensitive, export-controlled drawings of critical U.S. military technology to Simsek and Ozcan so they could make the components in Turkey. She did this by illegally exporting the drawings to Ozcan via software, which allowed him to remotely control her computer and elude security restrictions. 

    After Simsek and Ozcan made the components in Turkey, they transported them to Senbol, who repackaged them, removed any reference to the foreign country and laundered hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments back to Simsek and Ozcan.

    The military tested the parts but determined that they did not conform with product specifications, and federal investigators eventually broke up the scheme.

    Senbol faces hundreds of years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on August 6. Simsek and Ozcan have been labeled fugitives.

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