Navy Paid $1.6M for $8K Silencers
Senior intelligence officials under investigation for fraud
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2013 2:27 PM CST
A photo illustration of the Navy's budget.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – A word of advice: Do not trust the US Navy to scope out Black Friday sales. Federal prosecutors are investigating three senior Navy intelligence officials for an alleged scheme in which the Navy paid $1.6 million for a batch of homemade gun silencers that cost about $8,000 to produce, the Washington Post reports. The suspects are civilians who headed up some highly classified programs. Using their positions, they handed a contract for untraceable silencers to a California auto mechanic—who happened to be one alleged conspirator's brother.

Prosecutors haven't officially identified the men, but thanks to some sloppy redacting of court documents, the Post identified two of them as Lee Hall and David Landersman. Sources say both have been on administrative leave since a criminal probe began in the spring. The auto mechanic, Landersman's brother Mark, is the only one that's been charged with a crime so far. His charging documents include an email exchange in which David sent him online instructions for making silencers. "Wow! Very simple," Mark replied. He then asked a machinist in his shop to make 349 of them, telling the mechanist they were mufflers. When the Post told that machinist how much the "mufflers" were sold for, he replied, "Are you kidding me?" The scandal doesn't appear to be related to the other massive corruption case on the Navy's plate.