Melton is charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, an offense that carries a maximum of 20 years in prison, and a $250,000 fine. He also would be subject to property forfeiture.
Melton, a Moorestown native, has business interests in real estate, parts distribution, and manufacturing, according to his website. He owned and operated Partz from 2003 to 2009. An Inquirer article from October 2005 noted that he and his wife were the highest bidders in a charity event in which several colorful replicas of the RCA Victor "Nipper" sculpture were auctioned, winning one for $15,000.
Neither Melton nor his attorney responded to phone calls Thursday.
The allegedly fraudulent contracts were for providing the Defense Department with certified and approved replacement parts for trucks, trailers, and engineering equipment.
"They just were not in compliance with the contracts, and he was representing them as one thing and they were something else," said Matthew Reilly, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for New Jersey.
A November 2007 contract - for 1,400 oil pans - won by Partz in an online bid at $53.85 per pan, for a total cost of $75,390, stipulated that the parts would be obtained from one of two approved manufacturers.
But, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Melton allegedly instructed a Partz employee in an e-mail to "bid (for this contract) and I will have the parts made (overseas)."
The contracted parts were not the cause of any known accidents or injuries, according to Reilly.