Bribes admitted by defense contractors

December 21, 1990|By Kelly Gilbert | Kelly Gilbert,Evening Sun Staff

The former president of a Silver Spring computer software company and a former company consultant pleaded guilty today to a federal conspiracy charge for funneling bribes to a U.S. Navy official in return for his influence on minority defense contracts.

Clarence Braddock, 61, of Alexandria, Va., and Louis L. Rainey, 61, of Ocean City, entered their pleas to Judge Frederic N. Smalkin in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

Braddock, the former president and chief executive of Automated Sciences Group Inc., paid many of the bribes -- which totaled at least $123,000 -- through Rainey to Navy official Richard Ramirez through Brandeis Corp., a sham company in Silver Spring, and two Ramirez bank accounts that served as conduits to cover up the illegal payments. The bank accounts bore fictitious corporate names.

In return, Ramirez used his influence to help Automated Sciences obtain three lucrative minority defense contracts in the mid-1980s, according to papers filed in court by Assistant U.S. Attorney William K. Meyer.

Ramirez, former civilian director of the Navy's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, currently is serving a year-and-a-day prison term for accepting $180,000 in bribes from Wedtech and United Chem Con in other minority defense contract scandals, and for failing to pay taxes on the money.

Meyer said Ramirez cooperated with the government in the Automated Sciences case and will not be prosecuted.

Automated Sciences, a black-owned business that designs and sells database software, and Conrad Hipkins, its owner and former chairman, are under indictment on bribery, conspiracy and racketeering charges in a related case. Hipkins and the company are scheduled for trial here in March.

Meyer said in a statement of facts filed in court that Hipkins began the conspiracy with a $10,000 bribe, disguised as a consulting fee, to Ramirez in 1982. Braddock willingly continued the bribe payments after Hipkins told him about the first one, the prosecutor said.

Automated Services hired Rainey as a consultant in 1981, and later used him to make the payments to Ramirez through Brandeis Corp., a Maryland company incorporated in 1983 to receive the bribes from Wedtech, United Chem Con and, eventually, Automated Services.

Ramirez' father, Jose, was listed as principal stockholder and officer of the company, which was operated out of Jose Ramirez's basement.

From March 1983 to January 1987, Automated Services, Hipkins and Braddock paid Rainey $270,000 in consulting fees for helping the company obtain defense contracts. Rainey, Meyer said, paid Ramirez $103,000 of that in bribes through Brandeis Corp.

Meyer said the government will recommend an unspecified prison term for Braddock at sentencing next year, and will make no specific recommendation on a sentence for Rainey.

Smalkin set no sentencing date for the two defendants after Meyer requested a delay until after Braddock and Rainey testify as government witnesses at the Hipkins-Automated Services trial.

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