5th Explo official pleads guilty in case spurred by explosion

Explo Systems vice president pleads guilty
Authorities have said that Explo Systems improperly stored tons of a military propellant at Camp Minden, which led to an explosion in October 2012 and spurred evacuation of the town of Doyline in October 2013. (Source: Louisiana State Police)
Authorities have said that Explo Systems improperly stored tons of a military propellant at Camp Minden, which led to an explosion in October 2012 and spurred evacuation of the town of Doyline in October 2013. (Source: Louisiana State Police)
The material was found during an inspection by a Louisiana State Police investigator following up on the explosion Oct. 15, 2012, in an igloo on property leased by Explo.
The material was found during an inspection by a Louisiana State Police investigator following up on the explosion Oct. 15, 2012, in an igloo on property leased by Explo.
The material was described as a ticking time bomb if left unchecked.
The material was described as a ticking time bomb if left unchecked.
(Source: Louisiana State Police)
(Source: Louisiana State Police)

(KSLA) - An explosion more than five years ago at an installation in Webster Parish now has an official facing five years in prison.

The plea agreement arises over a criminal conspiracy that led to the blast at the Explo Systems facility at Camp Minden, federal authorities say.

William Terry Wright, 64, of Bossier City, is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 30.

The Explo Systems vice president pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Shreveport.

Wright also faces a $250,000 fine, $149,032.80 in restitution and three years on federal supervised release once he is released from prison, the U.S. attorney's office reports.

As vice president, Wright oversaw the demilitarization of military munitions at Explo Systems.

The company then would resell the recovered explosive materials for use in mining operations.

The U.S. Army awarded Explo Systems a contract March 24, 2010, to dispose of 450,000 155mm artillery propelling charges designated as M119A2 for $2,902,500.

The Army and Explo Systems officials amended the contract March 6, 2012, to 1.35 million propellant charges for $8,617,500.

The contract required Explo Systems to:

  • properly store and dispose of the demilitarized M6 propellant, and,
  • document the sale of the explosive material and present the paperwork to the Army.

Authorities say Wright and other Explo Systems officials and representatives:

  • conspired from January 2010 to November 2012 to defraud the federal government by submitting false paperwork to the Army to dispose of hazardous waste at unpermitted facilities and improperly store explosives.
  • Moved the M6 propellant to prevent government officials from discovering that it was improperly stored, and,
  • Instructed employees to hide and conceal the improperly stored demilitarized M6 propellant and reactive hazardous waste from government officials during inspections.

The government also contends that paperwork filed with the Army between June 2011 and October 2012 bore forged or fabricated signatures and falsely showed that the demilitarized M6 propellant had been sold to third parties.

Then there was an explosion Oct. 15, 2012, in a munitions storage igloo at Camp Minden.

It involved about 124,190 pounds of smokeless powder and a box van trailer containing about 42,240 pounds of demilitarized M6 propellant.

The explosion destroyed the igloo and trailer, derailed 11 rail cars near the igloo and shattered windows on houses in neighboring Doyline and up to four miles away from the installation.

Four more Explo System officials also face sentencing Aug. 30:

  1. Charles Ferris Callihan, 68, of Shreveport, who was director of engineering and environmental control, pleaded guilty June 8 to one count of false representation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
  2. Program manager Kenneth Wayne Lampkin, 65, of Haughton,  pleaded guilty May 14 to one count of making a false statement.
  3. Traffic and inventory control manager Lionel Wayne Koons, 59, of Haughton, pleaded guilty April 24 to one count of making a false statement;
  4. Owner David Alan Smith, 62, of Winchester, Ky., pleaded guilty Dec. 14 to the conspiracy count and one count of making a false statement.

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