5 charged in bribes involving military 3 had been assigned to Fort Meade unit

November 22, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An article in Friday's editions incorrectly reported that one of five people indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday received cash payments for trying to influence military contracts at Fort Meade and other military installations. In fact, Air Force Maj. Delores Clark, 40, of Niceville, Fla., was not alleged to have received any payments in the purported scheme.

The Sun regrets the error.

A retired soldier and two civilians have been charged with trying to bribe military officials to steer defense contracts to a Maryland computer company while they were assigned to security intelligence posts at Fort Meade.

An Air Force major on active duty at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida and an Army major who retired last year at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., also were charged.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Harold G. Fink and John W. Hart, former civilian intelligence specialists, and Michael R. Joslin, a retired Army sergeant, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Baltimore on 21 counts of bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and obstructing a federal investigation.

Donald V. R. Hicks, the retired Army major, and Air Force Maj. Delores Clark, Hicks' sister, were charged with accepting cash from undercover agents in exchange for trying to steer the contracts to Technology Protection Inc. (TPI), a company formed last year in which Joslin was an officer.

The indictment handed down Wednesday said the alleged scheme lasted from March 1995 to June 1996.

Hicks, 44, of Marion, Ala., who retired in May 1995; Fink, 43, of Severn; and Hart, 44, of Watertown, N.Y., also were charged with making false statements to federal investigators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Dale P. Kelberman said each count carries a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. The five have not been arrested but will brought to U.S. District Court in Baltimore for a bond hearing in the next few weeks, he said.

The Army received a tip about of suspicious activity in February, federal officials said. After an initial probe by an Army major, the undercover agents were brought into the investigation.

Fink, Hart and Hicks were identified as having been assigned to the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, which is assigned to prevent secret and classified information from slipping into enemy hands by way of computer leaks.

Matthew Aid, a Washington expert on military and national security issues, said the 902nd has nothing to do with the top-secret National Security Agency, which also operates at Fort Meade.

The indictment charged that Fink and Hart "used their official positions to further the business interests of TPI" and were paid for their services by undercover agents from the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service who posed as investors interested in financing TPI.

Joslin, 37, of Bakersfield, Calif., met with the agents in July 1995 and told them he was sure Fink and Hart could help the fledgling company secure government contracts, the indictment said.

Over several months, the group allegedly passed along secret computer system security manuals and other data to give TPI an illegal advantage. At the same time, the indictment charged, Hicks offered jobs and cash to other federal employees at Fort Meade, Fink offered cash to Army workers at Redstone, and Clark tried to win business for TPI at Eglin.

Fink received $23,000 and Hart more than $5,000 from the undercover agents in exchange for their efforts, the indictment said.

An Army spokesman declined to comment. Most of the defendants did not return calls, but Fink denied any wrongdoing before referring questions to his lawyer, Stephen H. Sacks.

Sacks said Fink obtained a letter from a legal officer at Fort Meade granting him permission to work with TPI before participating in any activities on the firm's behalf last year.

Hart resigned, and Fink was dismissed from his position last summer. Fink has appealed that dismissal, Kelberman said.

Joslin retired from the Army on May 31, 1995, at Fort Meade.

Pub Date: 11/22/96

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