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Utah man indicted in Fla. ammo contracting case

Utah man indicted in Fla. ammo contracting case



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Bountiful man is among four people indicted by a federal grand jury in connection with a scheme that supplied the U.S. military with prohibited Chinese-made ammunition.

Federal prosecutors say Ralph G. Merrill, 65, provided financial and managerial assistance to the Miami Beach, Fla.-based company AEY, Inc.

The government paid AEY more than $10 million for 35 shipments of ammunition, which company officials said were from Albania. Prosecutors now say the ammunition was from China.

Shipments from the company were used to supply allied forces in Afghanistan.

In March, the Army told company owner and president Efraim Diveroli it had suspended AEY from government contract work pending the outcome of a criminal investigation

Diveroli, Merrill and two others -- David Packouz, director and vice president of AEY Inc. as well as Alexander Podrizki, an associate who was stationed in Tirana, Albania -- now face a 71-count indictment alleging conspiracy, making false statements to a federal agency and fraud.

Diveroli, Packouz and Podrizki made an initial appearance in a Miami court Friday afternoon.

Merrill made an appearance in Salt Lake City's U.S. District Court on Friday. He was released without bond and will make an initial appearance in a Miami court on June 27, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for Utah's U.S. attorney.

"These are serious charges and we are taking them very seriously," Merrill's attorney Peter Stirba said.

A telephone message for Merrill left at his Bountiful home was not immediately returned Friday.

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Associated Press reporter Jessica Gresko contributed to this report from Miami.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Jennifer Dobner Associated Press Writer

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