Defense consultant William Parkin, hospitalized 10 days ago after an apparent suicide attempt, pleaded guilty today to charges that he schemed to pass bribes to a Navy engineer who helped two Pentagon contractors win hefty electronics awards.
Parkin pleaded guilty to three counts in a federal indictment for which he was scheduled to stand trial next Monday--conspiracy, bribery of a public official and wire fraud.
He faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison and could be fined $750,000.
Parkin, 65, former head of the Pentagon’s Joint Cruise Missile Project Office, is regarded as a key figure in the FBI and Naval Investigative Service’s sweeping “Operation Ill Wind” probe of allegations that industry consultants bribed defense procurement officials for contract information.
Investigators have evidence--including wiretapped telephone conversations--that a dozen or more consultants ran a ring of corruption that involved dozens of government and industry figures and tainted the awarding of defense contracts worth hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollars, federal law enforcement sources say.
Parkin’s activities, the focus of the first indictment in a nearly 3-year-old investigation, have now led to guilty pleas by five individuals and his two contractor clients, Teledyne Industries of Newbury Park, Calif., and the Hazeltine Corp., a St. Louis-based subsidiary of the Emerson Electric Co.
Last Friday, senior Navy engineer Stuart Berlin joined Teledyne in entering a guilty plea admitting accepting bribes from a California consulting associate of Parkin--Fred Lackner, a longtime friend of Berlin.
Law enforcement sources had said that, after getting word that some of his co-defendants were on the verge of pleading guilty, Parkin took an overdose of pills at his suburban Washington home March 18 in a suicide attempt. His daughter found him at his home and he was rushed to an Alexandria hospital for treatment.
Parkin, who sources close to the case have described as deeply depressed about his predicament, attempted to come to his January arraignment incognito by wearing a baseball cap and false beard. By today, he had grown a beard. During the hearing he turned away from courtroom artists and quickly slipped out of the courthouse with his lawyer, Gerard Trainor.