Anahuac Transport Inc. has been fined $275,000 for supplying the Johnson Space Center in Houston with “potentially tainted rocket fuel.” Anahuac, a bulk chemical transporter based in Hankamer, Texas, must also forfeit the $251,401 in gross proceeds it obtained during the fraud scheme and serve three years of probation.
The federal government has banned Anahuac from contracting with it for three years.
From 2012 to 2020, Anahuac subcontracted with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense to transport rocket fuel using its tanker trailers, according to court records.
“To prevent contamination, Anahuac was required to ensure the tanker trailer they used did not previously contain certain chemicals that may have adverse reactions with the fuel,” a news release last week said.
Anahuac “intentionally falsified its documents,” claiming that it had not previously transported the incompatible chemicals when in fact it had. Therefore, NASA used the rocket fuel supplied by Anahuac, reports said.
Anahuac President Gary Monteau and owner Brant Charpiot pleaded guilty in February in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Anahuac could have been ordered to pay a fine of up to $500,000 and serve up to five years of probation.
Anahuac has been in business since 2009 and has a fleet of 35 trucks.
The rocket fuel Anahuac was contracted to haul was destined for missions with companies like SpaceX and to launch rockets with military payloads and supplies for the International Space Station. The Justice Department has not revealed if the potentially contaminated fuel caused any rocket launch issues during the eight-year period.
“During the hearing, the court noted the importance of the Johnson Space Center to the identity of the Houston area and how it was a privilege for a company like Anahuac to play a role in the U.S. space program. [U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett] noted that Anahuac had abused that privilege,” the Department of Justice said.