CBS Atlanta's exclusive tough questions investigation led to the massive recall of more than 18,000 fake smoke detectors the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department handed out.
Now there are tough questions about the company they bought them from, Silver Sails.
Silver Sails is a travel agency. That raised a red flag immediately for reporter Jennifer Mayerle.
That's why she did some digging and found Silver Sails and its owners have a long history of counterfeiting and time behind bars.
Bob and Judie Silver own Silver Sails Travel in Calabasas, Calif. You might think they sell airline tickets, but upon investigation, CBS Atlanta News uncovered the Silvers have a history of dabbling in all kinds of business. At one point, they sold industrial supplies, then cleaning chemicals to NASA and later pharmaceuticals.
"How would you describe Bob Silver?" Mayerle asked a former friend who didn't want to be identified.
"Um, a fairly morally corrupt person who seemed to think it was OK and seemed to think he could get away with anything," the person said.
In 2005, the Silvers did business with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, sending them two orders of smoke detectors, a total of 18,507. As a result of our tough questions investigation, we know are counterfeit.
Mayerle traveled to California to ask Bob Silver, the mastermind behind Silver Sails, the tough questions.
"Did you think you were going to get away with selling counterfeit smoke detectors to the city of Atlanta?," said Mayerle.
"There's no counterfeit smoke detectors. Out," said Bob Silver.
Bob Silver has a criminal history dating back to 1983. He's been in and out of prison since then for bad business deals through Silver Sails. CBS Atlanta News found Bob was sent to prison for defrauding the government. He pleaded guilty to selling the Department of Defense bogus supplies to be used by all branches of the military and NASA. He also served time for a terrorist threat, corporal injury to a spouse and assault with a deadly weapon.
And while Silver Sails was doing business with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Bob Silver was being investigated by the California Attorney General's Office. The AG alleges among many acts of unprofessional conduct, Silver illegally sold dangerous drugs to businesses in foreign countries. Bob
Silver had to surrender his license to sell pharmaceuticals.
As a result of these cases, Bob Silver was banned from doing business with the government.
Instead of abiding by the law, he used a fake business name and sold these counterfeit smoke detectors to General Services Administration. That's the federal government.
Silver Sails offices were raided during that investigation. Just five months later, Silver Sails placed a bid with the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department for smoke detectors. Within a year, they sent Atlanta more than 18,000 counterfeit smoke detectors.
Just a year later, Bob and Judie Silver pleaded guilty and went to prison for selling GSA the counterfeit smoke detectors.
"Are you ready to go back to prison?" Mayerle asked Bob Silver.
"I'm not ready to go anywhere. Out," said Bob Silver.
While Mayerle was questioning Bob about his crooked company, he called the cops on her.
"They just called, saying disturbing, you know, they're just being disturbed," said the officer.
Bob Silver's former friend thinks it's only a matter of time before police are back for him.
"The wheel turns around and if you sow some bad seeds, it comes back and bites you," the person said.
Before the Silvers were sentenced for the GSA case, Judie Silver wrote the judge a letter asking for leniency.
"I promise this will be my first and last time before any law enforcement agency. I intend to live out what little time I have left upholding the law and trying to be a credit to my dead parents," she wrote.
The Silvers are currently on probation. The FBI is investigating.
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