Ex-Boeing CFO pleads guilty in Air Force procurement scandal

The former chief financial officer for Boeing pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to illegally helping Darleen Druyun, the Air Force's former No. 2 procurement official, land a lucrative job with the company.

Michael Sears, 57, who along with Druyun was fired by Boeing in late 2003, pleaded guilty to a single count of aiding and abetting illegal employment negotiations in United States District Court in Alexandria, Va. Sears, who will be sentenced in January, could receive up to five years in prison.

"Michael Sears' secret employment negotiations with a senior Air Force official struck at the heart of the integrity of the multibillion-dollar defense acquisition process. Conflict-of-interest rules are important and protect the public interests," U.S. Attorney Paul McNulty said in a prepared statement.

"This is the largest corruption case by defense contractors our nation has seen in decades," said Keith Ashdown, vice president of policy at Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington-based interest group. "Sears' plea confirms that Boeing knowingly set out to make billions off of the illegal acts of a few."

In court papers, Sears admitted meeting with Druyun to discuss employment with Boeing while she was still serving as one of the Air Force's top contracting officials. In that job, Druyun held enormous influence over the service's nearly $30 billion annual procurement budget, and was key negotiator in a controversial deal for the Air Force to lease tanker aircraft from Boeing.

Druyun admitted in federal court last month to favoring Boeing in at least four contract negotiations, including the tanker deal. She said she felt indebted to the company for giving her daughter, her son-in-law and herself jobs. Druyun was sentenced to nine months in prison.

Last week, the Pentagon announced it would review all contracts Druyun oversaw from 1993 to 2002 as the Air Force's principal deputy assistant for acquisition and management. The Defense Science Board also will conduct a review of the military's acquisition systems to determine if there are sufficient checks and balances in place.

Sears admitted to not only meeting with Druyun while she oversaw Boeing contracts, but attempting to conceal those meetings from the Pentagon and federal investigators. Court documents show top Boeing's executives discussed recruiting Druyun at an Oct. 2002 meeting.

"They were very interested in Druyun's considerable talent and experience. They also discussed the fact that they did not want her to join Lockheed Martin, Boeing's primary competitor," court documents stated.

On Oct. 17, 2002, Sears and Druyun secretly met in a private conference room at Orlando International Airport, where Druyun had flown to attend an industry conference, to discuss her future plans. Druyun told Sears she had reached an agreement to accept a job with Lockheed Martin, but said she would consider an offer from Boeing, court documents showed.

The documents indicated that at the meeting, Druyun and Sears also discussed cost, delivery and schedule delays on the Air Force's F/A-22 fighter aircraft program, on which Boeing played a role as a subcontractor.

Druyun and Sears would later agree via e-mail to tell investigators they had not discussed her potential employment until early November, after Druyun had signed a letter recusing herself from all Boeing matters before the Air Force.

In subsequent e-mails and phone conversations, Sears implored Druyun to "hang tough" as investigators began questioning her about how she got a $250,000 a year job managing Boeing's missile defense programs.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.