MIAMI - The grandfather of a 22-year-old military contractor accused of illegally providing Chinese-made ammunition to the Afghanistan army defended him Friday as a dedicated businessman and legitimate weapons dealer.
Angelo Diveroli called the accusations "fabrications" by competitors jealous of his grandson's small profit margin. He did not name the competitors but said: "They want to destroy him with all kinds of lies because he works for the government."
The Army told Efraim Diveroli in a letter Tuesday that his Miami Beach company, AEY Inc., was suspended from government contract work pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into his claims that the munitions were made in Hungary.
Providing Chinese-made ammunition would violate AEY's contract and U.S. law. There were also complaints from the U.S. military in Afghanistan that the ammunition arrived there poorly packaged, including loose cartridges in paper bags.
There have been no reports that the ammunition was unsafe or failed to work properly. A Pentagon spokesman said some of it may not have been used because of concerns about its packaging.
Diveroli did not respond to a note left Thursday at a Miami Beach apartment listed as his address. Messages left Friday for his attorney and at a phone listing for AEY Inc. were not immediately returned.
Angelo Diveroli, who lives in North Miami Beach, said his grandson frequently accompanied him to gun shows when he was younger and became a weapons expert. The eldest of five children, he worked with his father on military contracts until he took over the business, his grandfather said.
"His passion is weapons, since he was a child," said Angelo Diveroli. "I used to take him to gun shows. He knew every weapon."
According to an Army Legal Services memo, AEY began contracting for the Defense and State departments in 2004. To date, the company has been awarded more than 150 contracts, worth more than $200 million. Its key contract was awarded last year for various types of ammunition for the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police. AEY also sold weapons, grenades, grenade launchers, rockets and clothing to the Pentagon and State Department.
On his MySpace page, last accessed in October 2005, the younger Diveroli wrote: "I had problems in high school so i was forced to work most of my teen years and i probably grew up way to fast. I finally got a decent apartment and im content for the moment, however i definately have the desire to be very successful in my business and this does take up alot of my time."