Former Engineer Pleads Guilty To Falsifying Test DataJOSEPH NEFF , Associated Press
Jun. 5, 1992 10:31 AM ET
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Workers at an Exxon laboratory in Linden falsified test results to obtain Pentagon and private industry approval for additives to Exxon lubricants, according to a former employee.
James R. Tricase, a former mechanical engineer with the oil giant, testified Thursday that workers phonied and fudged test data while he worked at Paramins Engine Test Lab in Linden. The laboratory, now closed, tested oil additives for diesel and gasoline engines. The data was submitted to the Lubricant Review Institute, an oil industry agency, and to the U.S. Army.
Tricase, 29, of Plainsboro pleaded guilty Thursday to knowing of and concealing the falsification of the tests while he was employed at the laboratory between 1988 and 1990.
Tricase told U.S. District Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise that others carried out the laboratory fraud. He also agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, an indication that further charges will follow.
John R. Webb, president of the Performance Products group of Exxon Chemical, said the company would not comment on the charges against Tricase.
''None of the motor oils and oil additives which Exxon presently markets rely on test data from the Linden test lab,'' Webb said.
The Exxon laboratory submitted test results to the LRI in Pittsburgh. The non-profit corporation, under contract to the Army, makes recommendations to the Army Fuels and Lubricants Division.
Approval from the AFL authorizes military agencies to purchase the products without further examination. Private companies also customarily purchase lubricants that meet military specifications.
In one test, a Buick engine is run for 64 hours straight to evaluate a lubricant's ability to resist high-temperature rust and wear on various engine parts.
In another test, a Ford engine is run for 288 hours to determine the lubricant's ability to withstand sludge buildup and wear on engine components.
Tricase testified that false temperature and viscosity readings were submitted to the LRI and test data was fabricated. He said the laboratory also concealed evidence of engine rust, cleaned harmful engine deposits from components and melted away engine sludge.
Tricase did not say at Thursday's hearing why he falsified the test data. He declined to comment afterwards.
Tricase, who has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, faces up to three years in prison and $250,000 in fines when he is sentenced Aug. 24.