Edmund Buys Embattled Plummer
Stephanie A. Weiss
BARRINGTON, N.J. -- Edmund Optics Inc. has agreed to acquire Plummer Precision Optics Inc., apparently as part of a settlement in Plummer's federal "whistle-blower" litigation.
Plummer expands Edmund's capabilities in precision optical manufacturing and coatings. Edmund President John Stack said the Pennsburg, Pa., facility will operate as Edmund's Plummer Precision Manufacturing Div.
Edmund officials do not anticipate making significant personnel changes in Pennsylvania. "The people working up there are very, very good assets to the company," Stack said.
He said Plummer's facility completes a "triad of capabilities" for Edmund: sales engineering and off-the-shelf inventory at the headquarters office in New Jersey; design of custom and off-the-shelf products in Tucson, Ariz.; and now manufacturing of custom optics and modifications of off-the-shelf parts at Plummer.
The acquisition also appears to be an important element in settling government charges against Plummer and key company officials. In 1997, former Plummer marketing director Bob Basore filed allegations under the False Claims Act that the company and several top officials knowingly manufactured and shipped millions of dollars of defective lenses and optical components to the military from 1987 to 1997. The government joined the lawsuit, unsealing the documents in 1999 and bringing charges on various counts of fraud and conspiracy.
The case involves hundreds of invoices, each of which could result in triple damages plus up to $10,000 in civil penalties.
"The lawsuit will be completely resolved when we take ownership," Stack said, adding that the deal should be complete before the end of the year
Seth Weber, assistant US attorney on the case, said he was aware of the acquisition but could not confirm that the lawsuit's end is near.
"The case is not over, but there are ongoing discussions," Weber said. "I really can't get into any specific terms of whatever agreements there are."
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