WEBSTER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - 2 of the 6 Explo employees indicted on felony charges in connection with the investigation into the improper storage of millions of pounds of military propellant at Camp Minden have agreed to plea deals that will require them to testify against the others.
All 6 of the men indicted in the case were originally charged with unlawful storage of explosives, reckless storage of explosives, failure to obtain magazine license, failure to properly mark, explosive material, and failure to keep accurate inventory. There are also conspiracy charges for each of those, since more than two people were allegedly involved.
Their indictments and arrests came after an eight-month investigation into the explosives recycling company's handling of at least 10 million pounds of the military propellant M6 at Camp Minden, a Louisiana National Guard installation in northwest Louisiana. Authorities say it was improperly stored, prompting an evacuation of the town of Doyline last year.
All of the charges except the inventory count carry sentences of five to 10 years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $20,000. All six remain free on bond.
Bossier-Webster DA Schuyler Marvin confirms Lionel Koons and Todd Dietrich pleaded guilty Friday morning to lesser charges of wreckless handling explosives.
Marvin says each will swear under oath against their co-defendants, Explo President David Fincher, Vice President David Alan Smith, Vice President of Production and Operations William Wright.
Koons and Dietrich gave testimony in court this morning to that effect, and their statements were read into the record. Dietrich, who was responsible for writing the company's standard operating procedures (SOPs), is expected to testify that during the course of his employment, his warnings that the product was backlogging were ignored.
Koons was in charge of inventory control. He is expected to testify that he would tell them to stop the deliveries of new products trucks when they ran out of room store it, but was overruled by the company owners and manger, who would then tell the company contracted to deliver the go ahead and bring it.
Marvin says they got paid to take the material, suggesting that the revenue drove the decision to continue accepting deliveries.
As part of the deal, both Koons and Dietrich will be fined $1,000 each, and a separate $1,000 payment to the Louisiana State Police. They will also be sentenced to 90 day jail sentences, suspended, with 2 years probation.
Marvin says he "doesn't anticipate any help" on the part of the remaining defendants and the corporation. "I'm looking to go to trial on those."
A third employee, Michael Kile, still faces the original felony charges at this point. It is unclear whether he will be offered a similar plea deal or go to trial.