The Justice Department has charged a defense wholesaler with fraud and counterfeit trafficking after it produced uniforms and other gear for the US military in China that didn’t do what it was designed to do, according to Military Times.
The contractor that’s been charged is Ramin Kohanbash, who owned a New Jersey-based supply company called California Surplus. He had gotten a $20 million contract to supply the US military with a variety of specialized uniforms, including parkas that were designed to hide a soldier from enemy night vision goggles.
The Justice Department alleges that Kohanbash conspired with other members of his company to outsource their orders to to China, sending uniform samples to China, where they were copied and produced. He also arranged for the items to be labeled as though they were produced legitimately.
Federal law prohibits contractors from manufacturing gear outside of the US or designated countries
Between 2013 and 2018, Kohanbash and his associates sold the gear to other wholesalers, and that 200 counterfeit uniforms ended up in the hands of US Air Force members in Afghanistan. The Military Times notes that the real parkas would have had a “near-infrared technology woven into the fabric,” which the counterfeits lacked. Other products included hoods which were touted as “permanently flame resistant,” but which actually weren’t.
Two US laws stipulate that any ”uniforms, fabrics, gear, and other specifically designated items” sold to the military must be manufactured within the US, or within a Trade Agreements Act-designated country, of which China isn’t included. Kohanbash will go before a judge in June, and could face considerable fines and prison time if convicted.
Update June 7th, 2019, 8:30AM ET: An earlier version of this article stated that Kohanbash owned United Associates LTD. His company is in fact California Surplus Inc. We regret the error.