Defense contractor president sentenced to prison for bribery conspiracy

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  • By AFOSI Public Affairs
Christopher Houston Hensley, 57, of Yukon, Okla., was sentenced Nov. 18 to serve one year and one day in federal prison for his role in a conspiracy to bribe a public official at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. The announcement was made by Sanford C. Coats, United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.

The case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris M. Stephens.

Hensley is the founder and president of Aerochem, Inc., based in Oklahoma City. Aerochem manufactures paint remover products, which it sold to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., and other military installations for several years. 

On June 9, 2015, Hensley was charged by information with conspiracy to bribe a public official at the Corpus Christi Army Depot, Texas. The information alleged that Aerochem started selling paint remover products in 2010 to CCAD.  According to the information, Hensley and Soney E. Beesley, a former Aerochem officer, developed a relationship at CCAD with Richard Balderas, Jr., a supervisor of a CCAD division that stripped paint off military helicopter parts. 

The information alleged that Hensley and Beesley provided entertainment, $5,000 in wire transfers and more than $3,000 in cash to Balderas in exchange for his favorable treatment of Aerochem's business interests at CCAD. At a plea hearing on June 23, 2015, Hensley admitted that he approved of Beesley taking Balderas out to gentlemen's clubs in Corpus Christi and using Aerochem money to buy a $2,600 football helmet for the football team of Balderas' son.

United States District Judge Joe Heaton sentenced Hensley to one year and one day in federal prison. Judge Heaton ruled Hensley was responsible for bribery payments by Aerochem to officials at Tinker and CCAD.  Judge Heaton ordered Hensley to pay $24,316.06 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Defense, to forfeit an additional $24,316.06 to the federal government as criminal proceeds and to pay a fine of $25,000.  Following his prison term, Hensley must serve three years of supervised release. Judge Heaton ordered Hensley to report on Jan. 4, 2016, to a facility designated by the Bureau of Prisons.  

Hensley is the fourth defendant to plead guilty and to be sentenced for an Aerochem bribery scheme involving Tinker and CCAD.

In October 2013, Shelvie Raymond Tabb, 51, of Canadian, Okla., pled guilty to accepting cash from an Aerochem employee in exchange for Tabb's favorable treatment of Aerochem's business interests in federal contracting. Tabb is a former paint remover section chief at Tinker. 

In February 2014, Soney E. Beesley, 41, of Oklahoma City, pled guilty to offering a bribe to a public official. Beesley admitted at a plea hearing he made cash payments to Tabb in exchange for Tabb's favorable treatment of Aerochem's interests in federal contracts at Tinker. 

In June 2014, Richard Balderas, Jr., 47, of Ingleside, Texas, pled guilty to accepting a bribe as a public official. At a plea hearing, Balderas admitted as a CCAD supervisor, he helped to decide when CCAD  needed to replace its paint stripper. Balderas further admitted in 2011 and 2012, he accepted cash from Beesley on behalf of Aerochem, and Beesley represented that the cash payments were based on how much paint stripper CCAD bought from Aerochem. 

In August 2015, Judge Heaton sentenced Tabb, Beesley and Balderas to a term of 36 months probation each. Beesley was also ordered to serve 30 days of home confinement and pay a $30,000 fine.

(Editor's Note: The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs contributed to this story.)