Murtha-Linked Company Raided by FBI

Some of Jack Murtha’s staunchest supporters — at least since a former staffer of his joined the company — have been raided by the FBI:

Federal agents raided the Kuchera Companies in Windber, which include Kuchera Industries and Kuchera Defense Systems.

The entrance of the building was blocked by state and federal authorities. One by one, Kuchera employees drove off the property.

People who were working inside the building Thursday morning said about two dozen cars pulled into the parking lot around 9 a.m. Authorities form the FBI, IRS Criminal Division and others ordered employees to get their personal belongings and go to the front of the building…

Witnesses said Bill Kuchera’s private home and game preserve was also raided by federal agents.

Records indicate he bought the 161-acre property in May 2006 for $800,000. LBK Game Ranch is listed as a farm, dealing primarily with livestock and animal specialties. It has two employees and brings in $150,000 annually.

National Review addressed Kuchera’s cozy relationship with Murtha in 2007:

Take the story of Kuchera Industries, founded in 1985 just outside of Johnstown. Kuchera’s executives paid little attention to their congressman until one of Murtha’s former aides, Carmen Scialabba, approached CEO Bill Kuchera in 2001 about a non-profit Scialabba created to help disabled people find work. It must have seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime for the small manufacturing firm. The Washington Post reported last December that Kuchera subsequently joined the non-profit’s board, started employing more disabled workers, and hired a lobbying firm chaired by a retired congressman–Joe McDade.

FEC records show that Kuchera’s top officials proceeded to donate more than $45,000 to Murtha and his PAC over the next three election cycles, and an analysis of Murtha’s recent fundraising efforts shows an even more dramatic increase in Kuchera’s contributions. In just the first three months of 2007, Kuchera’s top executives have given Murtha and his PAC close to $20,000–nearly half the amount they contributed over the previous six years. Last year, according to a study done by Taxpayers for Common Sense, Murtha earmarked $1.3 million for Kuchera in the defense appropriations bill. This year, the day after Murtha stopped by all three companies’ booths at the Johnstown showcase, Kuchera announced at a press conference that it had been awarded two new contracts, totaling $14 million, by Northrop Grumman and Raytheon–both of which have substantial business before Murtha’s subcommittee.

Stay tuned.

Via Matt Lewis