The American Petroleum Institute is more than just the mouthpiece of the oil and gas industry. It’s also the banner under which a broad range of industrial standards and measures are kept, sort of a “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. And as a Tomball company has learned the hard way, you can’t just slap that seal anywhere.
Would you trust these couplings?
According to the Department of Justice, James Robert Roy of Tomball and Hayden B. Greene of Tulsa, Okla. have pled guilty to creating counterfeit pipe couplings by repeatedly putting the API seal on the couplings they sold to customers. The API seal means the equipment meets higher engineering standards and, usually, can be sold at a higher price.
Greene’s companies, Oilfield Coupling Distributors and Tomahawk Manufacturing in Tomball, had tried to get API certification for the couplings they made and sold in the past. That requires a lengthy quality assurance review by API, but it seemed to be taking too long, according to the criminal complaint filed earlier this year.
So in 2002 when Greene’s company found itself with an order for 1,200 API certified couplings from a Caldwell, Texas company and only 900 in stock, it decided to make the other 300 itself and put a counterfeit API stamp on them.
That little taste of success led to several other similar sales where the phony API seal — often with the registration of another company that was legitimately certified — was stamped on couplings.
The original indictment included numerous fraud and conspiracy charges and named another worker at the company, but he is not part of the plea agreement, which is for one count of conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods and commit fraud.
Roy and Greene each face up to five years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 5.