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Ex-Defense Firm Employee Pleads Guilty in Bribes

Times Staff Writer

A former Hughes Aircraft Co. employee pleaded guilty Monday to taking kickbacks for awarding subcontracts on military projects and agreed to aid authorities in the ongoing investigation of bribery in Southern California’s defense industry.

William Benites Huerta, 54, who worked as a subcontract administrator at the Hughes facility in El Segundo, entered guilty pleas to three of the 20 counts filed against him in an indictment by a Los Angeles federal grand jury.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Fred Heather said that as part of the agreement with Huerta, the government will drop the remaining 17 counts.

Huerta, who lives in the Lennox area, faces a possible sentence of 12 years in prison and a $12,000 fine.

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According to the indictment, Huerta received $2,834 in kickback payments from Richard Haskell between February and June, 1984, for awarding a subcontract on an Army Department project to Haskell’s RH Manufacturing Co. in Chatsworth.

Huerta is one of 10 employees from three major aerospace companies who were charged April 24 with taking kickbacks to award subcontracts on parts ordered by defense contractors for use in sophisticated military aircraft and weapons systems.

Eight of the defendants were employed by Hughes Aircraft, one was a vice president of Teledyne Camera Systems in Arcadia and another worked for Northrop Corp. in Pico Rivera.

In announcing the arrests, U.S. Atty. Robert C. Bonner said the case represented “just the tip of the iceberg.” Bonner said the FBI is conducting a widespread investigation into bribery in the area’s defense industry.

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