Sat, Dec 09, 2006
Accepts 'Obstruction' Charge Instead Of 'Conspiracy'
Former Boeing Engineer
Kenneth Branch plea bargained a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail
time in a case involving a rivalry between Boeing and Lockheed for
the USAF's Evolved Expendable Vehicle Launch (EELV) program.
The two companies were competing for a government satellite
launching contract when Branch and another ex-Boeing engineer
William Erskine were accused of stealing trade information from
Branch had left Lockheed for a position with Boeing -- Erskine
hired him. Erskine allegedly told another Boeing employee he'd
hired Branch because Branch had offered to bring Lockheed's entire
EELV bid proposal with him.
Charges against another Boeing employee implicated in the case,
Larry Satchell, have been dismissed on procedural grounds
Boeing won 19 of 28 contracts it bid on for the satellite
project in 1998.
Erskine still faces conspiracy charges, but Branch pleaded
guilty to the lesser charge of obstruction of justice last
Thursday. US district court Judge Ronald Lew fined Branch $6000 and
sentenced him to six months of home detention.
Boeing fired the two and agreed to pay a $615 million settlement
to end a justice department investigation into its practices
surrounding the bid process, and its relationship with a former Air
Force procurement officer involved with the EELV program.
As a result of the settlement and admission by Boeing, the Air
Force summarily awarded Lockheed the seven remaining launch
contracts worth around $1 billion and suspended Boeing from
launching rockets for 20 months.
Just this past week the two
companies formed a new joint venture called the United Launch
Alliance to administer all future launches for the US
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