Senior Navy intelligence official indicted in covert weapons deal

A Stonehenge-inspired monument constructed of the Osprey gun suppressor made by SilencerCo. Because the silencers from this deal have proved useless, making small monuments and sculptures like this one here is all their $10,000 price tag is good for. Image source: Coywhittier.

A senior Navy intelligence officer has been indicted on charges of theft and conspiracy. The charges come from a long-running federal investigation into a secretive military operation featuring the Navy SEALs and untraceable weapons parts.

David W. Landersman, the former senior director of a Pentagon office that dealt with covert operations, was the third person charged in a mysterious case that has resulted in two convictions.

According to prosecutors, Landersman arranged a $1.6 million defense contract for his brother, a bankrupt California mechanic, to manufacture untraceable rifle silencers. The silencers turned out to be useless, and they cost only $10,000 in parts and labor.

The Washington Post reports that the other defendants in the case said the silencers were specifically designed for classified military operation involving Navy SEAL Team 6, the elite commando unit that killed Osama bin Laden, and had to be obtained outside normal channels.

Landersman, a retired Marine officer, was indicted on September 24 by a federal grand jury in Virginia, but the charges were not made public until late Thursday. He was arraigned on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Alexandria and released on his own recognizance.

In an emailed statement, Landersman’s attorney said, “Col. Landersman is an American hero who has won the Silver Star and Bronze Star, and we look forward to him clearing his good name.”

According to the charging documents, 349 silencers were ordered by a Navy intelligence officer at the Pentagon known as the Directorate for Plans, Policy, Oversight, and Integration.

Landersman was the head of the civilian-run directorate which was supposed to provide back-office support and oversight for Navy and Marine intelligence operations.

Under his leadership, the directorate was sometimes actively involved in secret missions, according to interviews and prior testimony in the case.

Landersman is still an employee of the Navy, but he has been reassigned to a clerical job pending the outcome of the investigation.

According to Navy Spokesman Commander William Marks, Landersman is “no longer performing duties in any way associated with intelligence.” Marks also said that Navy officials will consider appropriate administrative action in response to the indictment.

Mark S. Landersman, an auto mechanic from Temecula, California, was convicted in October 2014 on conspiracy charges for building the untraceable silencers and shipping them across state lines without a proper firearms license.

Lee M. Hall, a civilian Navy intelligence official who worked for David Landersman and helped arrange the delivery, was also convicted in 2014.

Both men have not yet been sentenced.

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