U.S. Indicts 3 More in Probe of Military Pact Kickbacks, Bribes

Times Staff Writer

Three more Southern California defense industry executives have been indicted by a federal grand jury in a continuing probe of alleged bribery and kickbacks involving military contracts, U.S. Atty. Robert C. Bonner announced Tuesday.

The latest to be charged in the joint task force investigation named Operation Defcon are Lawrence Hilary Jones, 46, a former helicopter company department manager; Clinton Arlie Butcher, 49, owner of a Culver City firm that manufactured aircraft parts, and Carlos Albert Alarcon, 38, former buyer for Magnavox Advanced Products & Systems.

Last July, 19 former defense industry purchasing agents and suppliers involved in subcontracts on sensitive military projects were indicted in the combined investigation by the FBI, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the criminal investigation division of the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition, Tazzel Smith of Culver City pleaded guilty on March 9 to making false labor, material and overhead claims for more than $47,000 on a government contract while he headed Zelco Magnetics.

Smith is scheduled for sentencing next Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie.

Since the Defcon investigation began about 2 1/2 years ago, Bonner said, more than 30 defendants have been convicted of kickbacks and related charges.

Assistant U.S. Atty. James R. Asperger said that Jones, a resident of Fountain Hills, Ariz., who lived in Los Angeles during the alleged offenses, and Butcher, of Playa del Rey, were charged in the indictment with mail fraud, conspiracy and the payment and receipt of bribes.

Jones, former manager in the product support department of Hughes Helicopters Inc. (now McDonnell-Douglas Helicopters), allegedly accepted at least $19,000 in secret payments from Butcher, owner of FPI Inc., of Culver City, to influence the awarding of subcontracts on the Army's Apache attack helicopter.

Alarcon, a native of Bolivia who lives in Whittier, was accused in a separate indictment of mail fraud, receipt of kickbacks and extortion allegedly involving at least $25,000 from vendors seeking subcontracts from Magnavox.

Many of the contracts allegedly involved components of sophisticated military satellite communications equipment.

Alarcon was arrested Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles. Butcher and Jones were not yet in custody.

Those indicted were not available for comment.

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