A Marine with Scout Sniper Platoon, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment stands ready to engage a target with an M4A1 Carbine with silencer attachment during a shooting training exercise at marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., on Sept. 26, 2013.
JOSEPH SCANLAN/U.S. MARINE CORPS
Three senior Navy civilian officials testified Monday that they never authorized $1.6 million for a secret operation to buy hundreds of rifle silencers for the Navy SEALs and were instead told the money would be used to pay for intelligence studies and consultants.
The testimony, in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, came on the opening day of the trial of Lee M. Hall, a civilian intelligence director for the Navy who is charged with theft and conspiracy in one of the more bizarre contracting scandals to emerge from the Pentagon in recent years.
Prosecutors argued that Hall and his boss, David Landersman, who led an obscure intelligence office for the Navy, bilked the government by persuading Navy officials to set aside more than $1.6 million in excess funds and then creating a sweetheart classified contract for Landersman's brother, a recently bankrupt California auto mechanic.
In exchange, the mechanic, who is scheduled to go on trial next week, delivered 349 homemade silencers designed to fit AK-47-style automatic rifles — although the suppressors cost him only about $10,000 in parts and labor to manufacture, according to court documents and testimony. Even worse, prosecutors said, the silencers didn't work.