Ex-contractor with Murtha ties charged over kickbacks

Federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh have charged a former executive for a defense contractor with ties to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) with taking nearly $200,000 in kickbacks from a subcontractor.

Richard Ianieri, former president and CEO of Coherent Systems International Corp., is accused of accepting the kickbacks from a subcontractor identified only as “K” in court documents filed Monday. The charges came in the form of a criminal information, an indication that Ianieri is working with prosecutors and plans to plead guilty.

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The charges are the first in an ongoing criminal investigation into defense contractors who have received congressional earmarks.

Murtha has not been named as a target in the probe and has said he has not been involved in any wrongdoing.

Coherent Systems and Kuchera Defense Systems, both based in Pennsylvania, worked together on several multimillion-dollar defense contracts. In a 2007 press release, Murtha announced that Kuchera was working with Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, the Air Force Research Lab and Coherent on a contract that would bolster Kuchera jobs.

“These contracts involve new programs for Kuchera, which further diversifies their work load across various programs,” Murtha said in the release.

FBI agents raided Kuchera’s offices as well as the homes of the company’s two owners, Ronald and William Kuchera, earlier this year.

In 2006, Murtha issued a release lauding the relationship between Coherent and Kuchera and noting that the two were “working virtually as one company.” Coherent was working with Kuchera Defense Systems on $30 million worth of military contracts.

Murtha’s spokesman declined to comment on the indictment Tuesday.

Ianieri faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail and a $250,000 fine.

In August 2007, Coherent became a subsidiary of Argon ST, another defense contractor.