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Ex-Unisys Official, 2 Others Plead Guilty in Defense Contracts Scandal

From Reuters

A former Unisys Corp. official, a political consultant and a former Pentagon contracting official pleaded guilty today to federal charges in the defense procurement scandal.

Robert Barrett, 55, a former official of Unisys, a major defense contractor, pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiring to conceal the source of campaign contributions to some congressional officials.

In a related case, political consultant Joseph Hill, 76, of Mineola, N.Y., pleaded guilty to four counts of election code violations in conspiring with Unisys to hide the source of political contributions.

Several congressmen were named in the Barrett and Hill papers, including Rep. Roy Dyson (D-Md.) and former Rep. Bill Chappell Jr. (D-Fla.). No allegations of wrongdoing were made against the lawmakers.

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Chappell, who served as chairman of the defense appropriations subcommittee before he was defeated last year, and Armed Services Committee member Dyson have denied receiving any illegal contributions from defense contractors in the major fraud investigation.

In a separate case, suspended Marine Corps contracting official Jack Sherman, 52, pleaded guilty to accepting $43,500 in payments in an FBI undercover operation as he sought to sell sensitive information on prospective defense contracts.

A dozen major U.S. defense contractors had been under investigation in the scandal in connection with the alleged buying of inside information from defense officials to gain an illegal advantage in winning military contracts.

The three men pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton.

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Sherman faces up to 20 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Barrett could receive 10 years and $500,000 in fines and Hill could receive four years and $400,000 in fines.

Hilton set sentencing for Sherman and Hill on April 7 and Barrett for May 5.

No indictments were issued today, but the three men entered guilty pleas to charges outlined in federal informations filed by a prosecution task force headed by U.S. Atty. Henry Hudson.

Hazeltine Corp., a division of Emerson Electric Co., pleaded guilty on Jan. 6 to charges in the first of a series of federal indictments by a grand jury in the scandal.

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But defense contractor Teledyne Inc.'s Teledyne Industries division, Navy procurement official Stuart Berlin and defense consultants Fred Lackner and William Parkin pleaded innocent in another indictment that charged they were involved in fraudulent defense procurement.

The Defense Department earlier this month suspended Hazeltine, Teledyne Industries and the officials from government contracting pending the outcome of the cases.


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