When their Windber area business was thriving, William and Ron Kuchera’s defense firm meant steady jobs for hundreds in the area on projects that supported the nation’s troops.
It’s that side of the Kuchera brothers that a federal judge should consider before levying what could mean multi-year prison sentences for both men, their attorneys argued in memorandums to the court this month.
“Bill and Ron Kuchera are not people in need of rehabilitation through incarceration,” wrote Pittsburgh defense attorney J. Alan Johnson, citing their years of charitable deeds, efforts to help disabled veterans as well as remorse for defrauding the government over a multiyear period.
Ron’s attorney, Stan Levenson, agreed, describing a prison sentence as a “waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Both men admitted guilt earlier this year to fraud against the government and conspiracy to avoid paying taxes – acts stemming from their years running the firm Kuchera Defense Systems.
At its peak, the company employed 400 workers and was awarded for its work on military projects. But prosecutors noted – and the Kucheras have since admitted – that they also claimed lobbying costs, hunting trips and a private airplane as business expenses.
“(William Kuchera) took advantage of a sloppy Department of Defense contract administration system ... and benefited from it,” Johnson added, saying his company also produced second-to-none parts and value for the government.
Ron Kuchera indicated the same in a letter to the court, saying “I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Johnson and Levenson said the brothers have already repaid $4.6 million total in court-ordered forfeitures and restitution, making the government “financially whole.”
“Ronald Kuchera is indeed far more than the crimes to which he has pled guilty and is worthy of forgiveness ...” Levenson said, citing what he called an otherwise “exemplary past” and pointing to 152 character letters filed by former employees, families and others.
Letters cited the Kucheras’ reputation for finding work for those with special needs. Venison from their Cambria ranch – once raided by federal agents – was provided annually to needy families during the holidays, attorneys said.
Johnson also cited William Kuchera’s health issues in the memorandum, saying he was recently diagnosed with advanced stage prostate cancer – a disease for which he has sought a more targeted “proton radiation” for treatment that he cannot receive behind federal prison bars.
Both men are currently scheduled to appear for sentencing Tuesday before U.S. District Judge Kim Gibson in Johnstown.
David Hurst covers Windber for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.