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Parkin Case Moved From Obscurity to the Spotlight

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Times Staff Writer

The news last summer that consultant William L. Parkin was a subject of the massive federal defense fraud investigation went almost unnoticed amid the uproar over alleged wrongdoing by top Pentagon officials and major defense contractors.

Parkin, after all, was an obscure businessman who worked out of his home in suburban Washington. In the Navy he had been only a middle-level official who negotiated contracts from an obscure office in charge of cruise missiles.

But court documents recently made public allege that Parkin was the archetype of a procurement system gone wrong, a wheeler-dealer whose access to Pentagon “inside skinny” made a mockery of fair competition in bidding for Defense Department contracts.

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Charges Describe 6-Year Operation

For nearly six years, the government alleges, Parkin operated at the center of a network of consultants who bribed Pentagon officials for information, shared what they learned among themselves and sold it, in turn, to defense contractors eager to gain an edge in their attempts to win lucrative defense contracts. Parkin’s lawyer, however, denied that his client is guilty of wrongdoing and predicted that he will be acquitted.

In his work as a consultant, Parkin’s criminal brokering of contract secrets was “pervasive,” the government charged. And it alleged that earlier he had worked with equal resourcefulness from the other side of the fence, leaking inside information from his Navy office to consultants and favored clients in an effort to cultivate contacts later.

Parkin was charged Friday with crimes relating to his dealings with Hazeltine Corp. and Teledyne Electronics, to whom he allegedly sold inside information gathered with the help of consultant Fred H. Lackner and former Navy official Stuart E. Berlin.

But his connections to nearly 20 other individuals and firms named in the investigation are detailed in the search warrant affidavits unsealed in federal court in Alexandria, Va., this week. Even his attorney, Gerard F. Treanor, said in an interview that he expects further formal charges against his client.

Linked to Key Probe Targets

Among the Parkin associates mentioned prominently in the documents are consultant William M. Galvin, his close friend and mentor; former Air Force official Victor D. Cohen, to whom Parkin paid $12,500 in 1982 on behalf of Galvin, the document alleges, and former Assistant Navy Secretary Melvyn R. Paisley, who Parkin contended pulled strings to help the Northrop Corp. The three have been described by prosecutors as targets in the fraud investigation.

Parkin’s wide web of associations, which provided federal agents with a blueprint of alleged wrongdoing as they monitored his phone conversations and private business dealings, suggests that the government’s effort to prove charges against him could, in turn, be key to prosecutors’ case against other targets of their investigation.

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How He Plied His Trade

It is Parkin’s routine dealings with mid-level consultants and representatives of defense contractors, however, that best illustrate the way in which he plied his trade.

The dealings, described in great detail in the 44-page affidavit, came to the attention of investigators largely as a result of a consultant-turned-government informant, who began more than two years ago to wear a hidden device that recorded his conversations with Parkin and others.

The informant, who agreed to cooperate with the government after he was caught trying to peddle inside Pentagon information to a private contractor, was working in late 1986 with a network of consultants with Parkin at the center. He gathered information showing that Parkin “served as a middleman who paid government employees for information and sold it to contractors,” according to the documents.

Marine Corps Contract Cited

Parkin and his associates were seeking to buy and sell inside information about the Advanced Tactical Air Command Central, an $80-million Marine Corps contract sought by a number of major defense contractors, the documents allege.

The informant became Parkin’s main source on the contract, using money provided by the FBI to buy information from an unidentified Defense Department official and from Marine Corps official Jack Sherman, the documents show.

But Parkin used the wide web of contacts he had cultivated long before to seek out other information as well. One of his contacts was consultant Thomas Muldoon, who got his information from consultant Mark Saunders, whose primary source was Navy official George Stone, according to the documents. All have been named as targets of the investigation.

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When Parkin wanted to sell what he knew about the Marine contract to the defense firms who wanted to win it, he called upon other intermediaries, court documents allege. Among them was William Sanda, who allegedly passed on the inside information to the Unisys Corp. in exchange for a fee. Both Sanda and Unisys are targets of the investigation.

When Parkin eventually tried to sell his own knowledge directly, he asked Galvin to recommend him to the General Electric Co., according to the affidavit.

Paying of Bribes Described

The document does not say if there were direct payments from Parkin to Pentagon officials on the Marine project. But it and the indictment handed down Friday contain other allegations that Parkin paid bribes to federal officials.

In the Hazeltine case, Parkin and Lackner allegedly struck a deal with Berlin calling for him to be paid up to $20,000, but they had paid him only $2,500 by the time the federal investigation became public. In the Teledyne case, Parkin, Lackner and Teledyne employee Michael Savaides are alleged to have paid bribes to Berlin in exchange for information.

Parkin also made payments to low-level government officials whose names have not yet come to light, according to the recently released affidavit.

But no matter how high-ranking are Parkin’s sources, the document indicates, his alleged information-peddling business did not always work smoothly.

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At one point, it says, when Parkin was trying to persuade defense contractor Atlantic Research Inc. to hire him, he asked his friend Galvin to help him demonstrate that he had access to inside information.

To help Parkin, Galvin allegedly asked Navy official Paisley to find out details of a confidential bid made by Atlantic on a Navy project. Parkin then “gave it to the man from Atlantic to show Parkin’s access to the number.”

There was only one problem. The affidavit says: Paisley’s number was wrong. Parkin didn’t get the job.

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