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Feds: Rochester-area engineer faked inspection reports for spaceship parts sent to SpaceX

Local News

A Rochester-area engineer is facing charges, accused of falsifying inspection reports for space parts purchased by Space X for its spaceships.

Prosecutors say the suspect, James Smalley of Penn Yan, worked as a quality assurance engineer for PMI Industries in Gates, which provided machining services for “flight critical aerospace parts.” PMI provided parts for Space X including for the company’s Falcon launch family along with other Department of Defense contractors.

Among the products PMI made were nose cone faring which was designed as “a fracture critical part.”

But, after an audit in February of 2018, officials found that Smalley had falsified inspection reports and testing certifications for critical parts for Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

Prosecutors say Smalley faked at least 38 source inspection reports.

In court documents, prosecutors say Smalley admitted to copying the signatures of other inspectors onto reports. When asked why he did it, Smalley said he wanted to “ship more product for the company.”

After the faked inspections were uncovered, SpaceX ended its relationship with PMI, which put the company out of business.

SpaceX found seven NASA missions, two Air Force missions, and one NOAA flight mission were impacted by the parts.

He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

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