In 1997, Ross Hyde, the owner at the time of Ordinance Parts, was sentenced to one year in prison and fined $60,000 for making false statements regarding a Department of Defense contract. He was also barred from working as a government contractor for three years.
You would think this would be the last time his name would be associated with a defense contract, let alone something as vital as aircraft landing gear.
However, by 2008, Hyde was back in the defense business, with Vista Machining supplying hardware and machined metal products for tanks, aircraft and various other pieces of military equipment. Over the next seven to eight years, Vista would provide more than 7,000 parts and earn more than $20 million from government contracts.
And although a $298,000 judgement won by the IRS against Hyde in 2012 should have been a red flag, Hyde and Vista didn’t draw any real attention until 2015, when the quality of its parts started coming under scrutiny. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service would eventually raid Vista and find enough information to ban the company from receiving military contracts until October 2019. Triggering the raid was the poor quality of parts that Vista had won a contract to supply, and the constant need to remove them from the supply chain.
At this time, authorities discovered that Vista was also using vendors who were not authorized to receive technical, and somewhat sensitive, equipment specifications. Many of these unauthorized suppliers were uncovered as low-cost Chinese firms.
According to a report from Task & Purpose, Vista even hired one company to grind off marks showing a product was made in China.
All of this was topped by federal charges issued earlier this month in which Hyde and Vista are accused of making false claims about the type of aluminum used in aircraft landing gear parts. Inspectors stated that the metal was not the superior grade requested in the contract, but a much weaker, less expensive grade of aluminum.
If convicted, this former convict, tax evader and government supplier could face up to five years in federal prison.
— Jeff Reinke