Businessman accused of botching more than $1M federal job

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – A Tennessee businessman is accused of ripping off $1.2 million from the U.S. Department of Defense for shoddy work his firm did under federal contracts.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports Phillip Michael Huddleston faces charges of defrauding the government, wire fraud and illegal banking transactions.

An indictment shows that Huddleston, who is co-owner of Protech Metal Finishing in Vonore, and his unidentified partner failed to provide high-quality work on plating for military ammunition racks after winning the defense contracts in 2009.

Huddleston is also accused of lying to federal inspectors, tricking federal and state environmental regulators, intimidating potential witnesses and forcing his employees to engage in cover-ups.

Huddleston’s attorney, David Eldridge, said his client maintains his innocence, and his firm remains open.

His trial begins July 12.