Ex-Defense Official Admits Taking $475,000 in Bribes
A former civilian Navy official on Friday confessed to taking $475,000 in bribes from two major defense contractors in exchange for confidential data on a Navy computer contract.
Garland Tomlin Jr., 59, a 20-year Navy employee, admitted that he took $400,000 from Sperry Corp. (which later became Unisys Corp.) and $75,000 from Honeywell Corp. between 1982 and 1984 to provide the firms with detailed inside information about a $162-million Navy computer maintenance contract.
Tomlin made the admissions as he pleaded guilty to criminal charges arising from the three-year Ill Wind investigation into corruption in the sprawling Pentagon procurement system. Another former Navy official and three other men also pleaded guilty Friday to similar charges.
Corporate payoffs to government officials “show a disturbing pattern, and that is what this case is all about,” said Henry E. Hudson, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who is overseeing the Pentagon investigation. “Every time we turn over a rock in this case we identify a new individual” involved in bribery schemes.
The $475,000 taken by Tomlin represents by far the largest sum that investigators have proved to have been passed from military contractors to a Pentagon official in the procurement scandal. Two other former Pentagon officials earlier this year admitted in court to taking about $50,000 each in bribes over a 10-year period.
Tomlin created a front company in the Bahamas to accept the payoffs and then transferred the funds to a Swiss bank account, according to a statement of facts filed with his guilty plea. He has refunded $385,000 to the government, prosecutors said.
In all, 17 individuals and two corporations have now pleaded guilty or been convicted of crimes uncovered in the continuing federal investigation of fraud and bribery in the Pentagon’s $150-billion-a-year purchasing system.
Prosecutors said Friday that all of the defendants are cooperating with the government and opening new avenues for investigators.
Hudson said he expected to file new charges against individuals and corporations within the next several weeks.
Appearing to offer guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton in federal court in Alexandria, Va., on Friday were:
--Tomlin, a former electronics engineer with the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, who pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, tax evasion and receiving bribes as a public official. He admitted soliciting bribes from Sperry and Honeywell officials in exchange for inside information on the Navy’s Consolidated Automated Support System contract competition. General Electric Co. eventually won the contract.
Tomlin, who left the Pentagon in 1985 to become a private consultant, faces 25 years in prison and fines of $130,000.
--Jerry L. Manning, 52, formerly a division chief at the Naval Sea Systems Command, who admitted conspiring with Washington-area defense consultant Thomas E. Muldoon to funnel confidential Navy data on a $90-million electronics contract to Muldoon’s corporate clients. The Ill Wind case broke before the deal could be completed. Manning, who resigned from the Navy last October, faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on the conspiracy and bribery charge.
--Dennis Mitchell, 42, former marketing manager for Sperry, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the government and concealing the source of illegal campaign contributions from Sperry to several congressmen. He faces 10 years in prison and fines of $500,000.
--Joseph S. Zuba, 67, a self-employed defense consultant in Harrisburg, Pa., who confessed to a conspiracy charge and three counts of making fraudulent campaign contributions on behalf of Sperry. The charges carry a maximum penalty of eight years in prison and fines of $550,000.
--Gerard J. Scarano, 74, a Connecticut defense consultant, who pleaded guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting in the making of a false statement, for his role in laundering Unisys funds for political candidates. He faces five years in prison and fines of $250,000.
All of the defendants declined to comment. Sentencing for the five has been set for Sept. 29.
The investigation uncovered evidence that Mitchell, a former aide to Sperry senior executive Charles Gardner, had channeled Sperry corporate funds into illegal campaign contributions to Reps. Les Aspin (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Robert A. Roe (D-N.J.) and former Rep. Robert E. Badham (R-Newport Beach), who served on the Armed Services panel and retired last year.
Zuba acknowledged serving as a conduit for illegal Sperry/Unisys donations to the late Rep. Bill Chappell Jr. (D-Fla.), former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense, and Reps. C. W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and George J. Hochbrueckner (D-N.Y.).
Prosecutors said there is no evidence the lawmakers were aware that the contributions were illegal.
Friday’s plea provided the first evidence of Honeywell’s involvement in the Ill Wind case. A company spokeswoman said Friday: “We do not have information that will enable us to comment at this time.”
Unisys said it is negotiating a deal with prosecutors to settle all potential civil and criminal charges arising from the procurement scandal. The company has blamed all of its questionable acts on former employees of the old Sperry Corp., which was acquired by Burroughs Corp. in 1986 to form Unisys.
Also on Friday, a minor figure caught up in the Ill Will case, Kenneth F. Brooke of Washington, was sentenced for tax evasion on real estate deals in Norfolk and Richmond, Va. Brooke has been providing testimony against his stepfather, William M. Galvin, a Washington defense consultant and a major target of the probe, prosecutors said.
Brooke received a suspended two-year prison sentence and was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 and perform 100 hours of community service.