VENTURA, Calif. — A former Simi Valley, Calif., man has been convicted of defrauding the U.S. government by selling more than $2.6 million in knock-off batteries to the Department of Defense.
Didier De Nier, 63, was found guilty Wednesday of five counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. De Nier lived in Simi Valley until he left the U.S. about two years ago to live aboard his yacht near the Caribbean island of St. Martin.
He is the former CEO of Powerline, which was based in Simi Valley and sold more than 80,000 batteries and battery assemblies to the Navy for emergency power on aircraft carriers, minesweepers and ballistic submarines. The company also did business as Birdman Distribution Corp.
De Nier and his employees attached counterfeit labels to the knock-off batteries so they appeared to come from approved manufacturers, according to evidence presented at the trial. They also used chemicals to remove “Made in China” markings from the batteries.
De Nier is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 18. He faces a maximum sentence of 110 years in federal prison.
His former wife, Lisa De Nier, who served as the company’s vice president of sales, previously pleaded guilty in the case to conspiracy to defraud the government. She is expected to be sentenced later this year and faces up to 10 years in prison.