Sun, Oct 03, 2004 - Page 11 News List

Pentagon official jailed for corruption

CORRUPTION Darleen Druyun admitted that she had favored Boeing in several major projects in a bid to obtain jobs for herself, her daughter and son-in-law

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

A former top US Air Force official was sentenced to nine months in prison on Friday after acknowledging that she had favored the Boeing Co in multibillion dollar Pentagon contracts while seeking jobs at the company for herself and family.

The official, Darleen Druyun, pleaded guilty in April to one count of conspiracy for negotiating a job with Boeing overseeing the company's business with the Pentagon. But on Friday, at a sentencing hearing in US District Court here, details emerged on the extent of her favoritism toward Boeing as well as the difficult negotiations during which she admitted to misleading government investigators.

Druyun said that Boeing would not have been selected for some military projects, or would have received lower payments, if not for her efforts to obtain jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law.

The hope of obtaining the jobs, she said, led her to favor Boeing in the selection and pricing of several major projects, including a US$20-billion leasing agreement for 100 airborne tankers, a 2002 restructuring of a NATO early warning system, a US$4-billion upgrade of the C-130 aircraft and a US$412-million payment on a C-17 contract.

The new facts, and an admission by Druyun that she had also mislead investigators after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy last April, resulted in Druyun having her sentence increased. The information came out in an amended statement made public at the hearing and elicited gasps when read by Assistant US Attorney Robert Wiechering.

"I am truly sorry for my actions," said Druyun, 56, who left her job as one of the top procurement officers at the Air Force in late 2002 after 30 years to accept a US$250,000 executive position at Boeing.

In a teary statement, she spoke of feeling "deep shame" and apologized to "my nation, my Air Force, my family and the courts for what I did."

When Druyun pleaded guilty in April, she was eligible for a prison term of up to six months under sentencing guidelines. As a result of having lied to investigators after entering her plea, the guidelines require a prison term of 10 to 16 months.

Druyun was fired from Boeing in November along with former chief financial officer Michael Sears, who negotiated Druyun's employment contract and who has agreed to plead guilty to similar charges. In addition, Boeing's former chief executive Philip Condit resigned shortly after the firings. Druyun's daughter recently resigned from Boeing, but her son-in-law still works there.

After pleading guilty in April, Druyun told government investigators that her job discussions with Boeing had not influenced her actions at the Pentagon or harmed the government.

Only after failing a lie detector test, did Druyun admit that her decisions as an Air Force official were shaped by a desire to curry favor with Boeing.

Specifically, Druyun agreed to a higher price for Boeing aerial refueling tankers than she thought appropriate and gave proprietary pricing data to Boeing "as a `parting gift to Boeing' and because of her desire to ingratiate herself with Boeing, her future employer," according to court papers signed by Druyun and the government. That deal is currently on hold.

In addition, Druyun admitted to selecting Boeing over four others for a US$4-billion program to upgrade C-130 avionics out of gratitude to Boeing for having hired her daughter and son-in-law. Druyun now thinks that an objective analysis would not have given Boeing the contract, court papers said.

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