HOUSTON – Anahuac Transport Inc. must pay a substantial fine after admitting to fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Jennifer B. Lowery.
Corporate representatives Gary Monteau and Brant Charpiot admitted their guilt Feb. 23 on behalf of the company and agreed to forfeit $251,401 in gross proceeds that it obtained from the criminal scheme.
Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett ordered the company to serve three years on probation and to pay an additional fine of $275,000. During the hearing, the court noted the importance of the Johnson Space Center to the identity of the Houston area and how it was a privilege for a company like Anahuac to play a role in the U.S. space program. He noted that Anahuac had abused that privilege.
At the time of the plea, Monteau, Charpiot and Anahuac entered voluntary exclusions with the United States in which each agreed to be banned from federal government contracting for two years.
Anahuac admitted to falsifying its records and delivering potentially tainted rocket fuel for NASA and Department of Defense (DOD) rocket launches.
NASA and DOD entered into contracts with various companies, including Space Explorations Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), to launch rockets with supplies for the International Space Station and with military payloads.
These companies procured fuel for the rocket launches and contracted for transportation of the fuel to the launch sites. Anahuac was in the business of hauling chemicals in tanker trailers. From approximately 2012 through 2020, NASA and DOD subcontracted Anahuac to transport the rocket fuel.
To prevent contamination, Anahuac was required to ensure the tanker trailer they used did not previously contain certain chemicals that may have adverse reactions with the fuel. However, Anahuac intentionally falsified its documents, claiming it had not previously hauled incompatible chemicals with its tanker trailers. In fact, it had.
Anahuac transported the rocket fuel with its contaminated trailers. As a result, NASA used the fuel for rocket launches.
NASA – Office of Inspector General (OIG) and DOD – OIG conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert S. Johnson is prosecuting the case.