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Pentagon Fraud Figure Attempts Suicide

Times Staff Writer

A major figure in the Pentagon procurement scandal took an overdose of sleeping pills in an unsuccessful suicide attempt just nine days before his trial on charges of conspiracy, racketeering and fraud was scheduled to begin, police said Monday.

Defense consultant William L. Parkin was reported in fair condition at a Virginia hospital after being found unconscious by his daughter early Saturday at his home in Alexandria, Va.

Parkin had drafted a lengthy note addressed to “a couple people” and apparently had taken an overdose of Halcion, a medication generally prescribed to counter insomnia, a police source said.

An investigation concluded that Parkin attempted suicide, police said. Parkin’s lawyer and a hospital spokesman would confirm only that he was hospitalized.

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‘Inside Skinny’

Parkin has been accused of operating for nearly six years at the center of a network of consultants who bribed Pentagon officials for “inside skinny” on defense projects and sold it to contractors eager to get an edge on their competitors. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 185 years in jail and $5.5 million in fines.

His attorney, Gerard F. Treanor, has denied that Parkin is guilty of wrongdoing and predicted that he will be acquitted.

Parkin, a former top civil servant in the Navy Department, had also vehemently denied guilt and complained that the burden of the highly publicized investigation had exacted an enormous emotional and financial cost.

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“I’m ruined already,” he told the Washington Post last September. “I have no income, I have no girlfriend. I have no future. . . . I’m praying very hard these days.”

The lengthy Pentagon fraud inquiry focused on Parkin almost from the start, wiretapping his telephone calls at home and work for about 15 months. What investigators concluded, court documents show, was that Parkin “served as a middleman who paid government employees for information and sold it to consultants.”

Inside Information

Parkin faces trial beginning next Monday on charges 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.

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Court documents made public also have detailed his connections to nearly 20 other individuals and firms, and Parkin’s attorney has said that he expects further charges to be filed against him.

Found Near Bottle

Police said they were summoned to Parkin’s home at 9:05 a.m. Saturday by his daughter, who called an emergency 911 number after finding him unconscious near a bottle of the sleeping pills.

He was taken by ambulance to Alexandria Hospital Center, where he was admitted. A hospital spokeswoman said she could not provide further information about Parkin’s condition at admission until she had consulted with his family.

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A police source, however, said Monday night that “from the incident and from the investigation, it’s clear that it was suicide.”

Halcion, a trade name for triazolm, is a potent hypnotic for which the maximum prescribed dosage is recommended to be 0.5 milligrams to aid in sleeping. Overdose occurs at four times that maximum dosage and can result in confusion, slurred speech and ultimately coma, according to standard references.

Top Two Targets

Among Parkin’s close associates were former Assistant Navy Secretary Melvyn R. Paisley and consultant William M. Galvin, who are regarded as the top two targets of the federal investigation. Neither has been charged with any crime.

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In the upcoming trial, Hazeltine and Teledyne executives who have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges are expected to testify against Parkin. They have admitted conspiring with Parkin and Lackner in arrangements to bribe Berlin in exchange for detailed information about upcoming Pentagon contracts.

Attorneys for both Lackner and Berlin have denied that their clients were guilty of any wrongdoing.

Guilty Plea

Parkin’s suicide attempt came just 10 days after a former Unisys Corp. executive pleaded guilty to bribing Paisley and agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

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