Former aluminum plant manager acquitted of government fraud

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A federal jury has acquitted the former plant manager of a Portland, Oregon, aluminum extrusions company on charges of defrauding the government.

The Oregonian/Oregon Live reports 72-year-old Dennis Merkel was found not guilty Friday.

Merkel is the former plant manager at Technical Dynamics Aluminum, which provided parts used by the Missile Defense Agency.

Prosecutors argued that Merkel in May 2000 altered test results on critical parts to be used on launch systems for U.S. anti-ballistic missiles.

Defense lawyers said Merkel didn’t know the parts would be used in national defense equipment and he could not be convicted of intending to defraud the government.

Defense attorney Per A. Ramfjord said employees made “minor alterations” in test results to meet demand but didn’t think the changes mattered to the small plant’s customers.