Orlando defense contractor pleads guilty to selling Turkish parts to U.S. military

A 36-year-old defense contractor from Orlando who used a front company to fraudulently provide critical military components from Turkey to the U.S. Department of Defense has pleaded guilty to over two dozen felony charges.

On Wednesday, May 8, the U.S. Department of Defense announced that Yuksel Senbol pleaded guilty to a total of 25 felony counts in Florida federal court. Those charges include: conspiracy to commit wire fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, seven counts of money laundering, conspiracy to violate the Export Control Reform Act (ECRA), four counts of violating the ECRA, and one count of violating the Arms Export Control Act.

According to court records, beginning in approximately April of 2019, Senbol operated a front company in the Central Florida area called Mason Engineering Parts LLC. She used this company to assist two co-conspirators, identified as Mehmet Ozcan and Onur Simsek, with fraudulently procuring contracts to supply critical military components to the Department of Defense.

These components were intended to be used in the U.S. Navy Nimitz and Ford-class aircraft carriers, U.S. Navy submarines, U.S. Marine Corps armored vehicles, a U.S. Army M-60 series tank, and Abrams battle tanks, among other weapons systems.

In order to fraudulently procure the government contracts, Senbol and her co-conspirators falsely represented to the U.S. government and military contractors that their company, Mason Engineering Parts LLC, was a “vetted and qualified manufacturer of military components.”  

However, the parts were actually being manufactured by Senbol’s two co-conspirators in Turkey. In addition, the involvement of one of the co-conspirators, Simsek, had to be concealed because he was previously debarred from contracting with the U.S. government after being convicted of a “nearly identical scheme” in the Southern District of Florida.

Court records show that Senbol assisted her co-conspirators with obtaining sensitive, export-controlled drawings of critical U.S. military technology in order to manufacture the components in Turkey. One of the co-conspirators, Ozcan, remotely accessed Senbol’s computer to evade security restrictions that limited access to these sensitive military drawings to computers located in the U.S.

These actions were in violation of numerous agreements Senbol had executed. There were also “clear warnings on the face of each (military) drawing that it could not be exported without obtaining a license.”

Once the components were manufactured in Turkey, the two co-conspirators shipped the parts to Senbol, who then repackaged them. She removed any reference to their Turkish origin. Senbol then lied about the origin of the parts to the U.S. government and a government contractor in order to receive payment for the parts.

After receiving the payment, Senbol proceeded to launder hundreds of thousands of dollars back to Turkey through international wire transfers.

This scheme by Senbol and her co-conspirators was uncovered by federal investigators after the parts were tested by the U.S. military. During that testing, it was determined that the parts supplied by Senbol did not conform with the proper product specifications.  

Since many of the components supplied by Senbol to the U.S. military were “critical application items,” the failure of these components would have potentially rendered the end system inoperable.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General; Defense Criminal Investigative Service; Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security; Air Force Office of Special Investigations; Homeland Security Investigations; and Department of State, Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel J. Marcet and Lindsey Schmidt for the Middle District of Florida, and Trial Attorney Stephen Marzen of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

Senbol is facing up to 10 years in prison for the conspiracy to defraud the U.S. offense and for each count of money laundering. She is also facing up to 20 years in prison for each count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to violate the ECRA, violating the ECRA, and violating the Arms Export Control Act.

A sentencing hearing for Senbol is scheduled for August 6, 2024.

The two co-conspirators in this case, Mehmet Ozcan and Onur Simsek, are currently fugitives, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.  

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