A Texas man pleaded guilty to a wire fraud plot on November 16 for attempting to sell and sell substandard Chinese-made military helmets, body armor, and other equipment to the State Department and other federal agencies, including the Air Force.
Tanner Jackson, 32, of Celeste Texas, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, although penalties for federal crimes are typically lower than the maximum possible, according to the U.S. Attorney’s news release for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The value of the contracts Jackson had bid on and won was not available.
According to court documents, Jackson owned and operated Top Body Armor, LLC USA and an affiliate, Bullet Proof Armor LLC, from his home in rural Texas from approximately June 2017 to December 2020.
During this time, Jackson frequently offered contracts to supply the State Department with helmets and body armor, even after his equipment was not tested in legitimate laboratories. To circumvent inspection errors, Jackson started his own fake ballistics laboratory, Texas Ballistics LLC, which forged reports that gave his equipment the score.
According to court documents, the equipment he sent was once used by officials at the US embassy in Baghdad until embassy officials raised concerns about the quality of the equipment.
Other contracts Jackson offered include the supply of helmets and body armor to foreign law enforcement agencies in South America, members of the U.S. Air Force, and various National Guard units. It is unclear whether he won these commandments.
Court documents also show that Jackson created and used numerous email accounts posing as real and fake people in the defense and shipping industries to cover up the Chinese origins of its products. According to court documents, he even used his mother and close friends’ personal information in his plan.
Jackson then forged a fake email exchange between himself and these “employees” and copied government officials to convince them that the shipping delays were related to truck accidents and COVID, as well as products coming in from overseas.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department and the US Army’s Criminal Investigation Division are involved in the investigation into this case.
US Assistant Attorney Russell L. Carlberg is pursuing the case.
A federal district court judge is due to deliver Jackson’s verdict on February 22, 2022.
Rachel is a Marine Corps Veteran, Penn State Alumna, and Masters Candidate from New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.