General Electric’s RCA Unit Fined $2.5 Million in Pentagon Probe
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) _ General Electric Co.’s RCA division pleaded guilty Monday to illegally obtaining classified Pentagon planning documents and agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle charges in the continuing probe of contractors trading defense secrets.
RCA Corp. pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to two felony counts of ″conveying without authority″ two secret editions of a Pentagon five-year spending program.
A current RCA marketing official and a former one also pleaded guilty to felony counts of unlawfully conveying the secret documents they obtained from other defense firms to other people in RCA. The two face possible 10-year prison sentences.
RCA’s guilty plea marked an acceleration in the government’s contining investigation, dubbed ″Operation Uncover.″
Nearly three months ago, Boeing Co. admitted it had illegally obtained Defense Department budget documents and paid $5.2 million in fines and restitution.
Former Boeing employee Richard Lee Fowler was sentenced last month to two years in prison for obtaining more than 100 secret Pentagon documents and passing them along to Boeing and other contractors.
In pleading guilty, RCA conceded to a statement of facts filed by prosecutors that it had acquired a wide array of secret Pentagon planning budget documents between 1978 and 1985 from other defense contractors.
These included copies of authoritative statements of overall defense policy and program memoranda that detailed weapon-system priorities for the Army, the Air Force and the Navy, according to the prosecution filing.
U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris fined the company $20,000. RCA, which was bought by GE in 1986, also agreed to pay the government $2.48 million to settle civil claims.
RCA admitted in one count that on Dec. 19, 1983, marketing official Leonard C. Kampf provided a five-year planning document that contained details of the Pentagon’s fiscal 1985 budget.
In the second count, it admitted obtaining on Nov. 28, 1984, a five-year defense program document containing details for the fiscal 1986 budget from Ronald B. Stevens.
Kampf, 69, who left the company in 1984, and Stevens, 49, manager of marketing services at RCA’s Government Systems Division in Cherry Hill, N.J., have agreed to cooperate in the continuing investigation.
They obtained the documents from employees of other defense firms, according to the government’s filing.
According to court papers, Kampf obtained documents from Philip R. Jackson, RCA’s marketing representative in Washington.
Jackson, who has received immunity from prosecution in return for his cooperation, testified at Fowler’s trial that he received 20 documents from Fowler.
The probe of major defense firms is continuing, said Michael Costello, who heads the investigation for the Pentagon’s inspector general. Costello declined to identify those companies specifically under investigation.
But RCA, Boeing and seven other firms were alleged during the Fowler trial to be part of a ring of companies that swapped secret Pentagon documents. The others named in testimony were Honeywell, Bendix, IBM, Grumman, Raytheon, Rockwell and Martin Marietta.
GE spokesman George Jamison said Stevens has been suspended from his job.
GE said in a statement from its Fairfield, Conn., headquartgrs that RCA, a wholly-owned subsidiary, agreed to enter the guilty plea after learning that Kampf and Stevens had planned to plead guilty.
″This unfortunate chapter in RCA history is now closed,″ GE said in its statement. Jamison stressed that the allegations centered on RCA. ″There have never been any allegations about GE with regard to this,″ he said.
RCA’s guilty plea came just three days after GE was convicted in Philadelphia of bilking the Pentagon out of $10 million for a battlefield computer system.
GE, the nation’s third-largest defense contractor, could be fined up to $71.9 million and faces possible suspension from future contracts.