WASHINGTON (AP) _ Wiretaps on the telephones of a defense consultant and bugging devices in his office have helped investigators paint a picture of alleged contract fraud and bribery involving a top Air Force procurement official, according to a government affidavit.
The eavesdropping on conversations between Victor D. Cohen, a deputy to the assistant Air Force secretary for acquisitions, and consultant William Galvin showed that Cohen ″has used his official position″ to help Galvin or his clients in exchange for ″payments and other gratuities,″ the document says.
One example outlined in the affidavit involves Cubic Corp. of San Diego, a client of Galvin and maker of shells that house electronic gear, called pods. Sometime before April 1, 1987, when Galvin’s phones were tapped, Galvin asked Cohen to award an unidentified pod contract to Cubic on a sole-source basis so that Cubic would be the only supplier, the document says.
In a tapped phone conversation May 15, 1987, Cohen told Galvin he wouldn’t award the contract to Cubic as a sole source. But he said he planned to have the Air Force issue the request for proposal with a required delivery schedule that Cubic’s competitor could not meet, the affidavit says.
″Cohen assured Galvin that by doing it this way, the procurement would appear to have been completed when, in actuality, Cubic would be guaranteed the award of the contract,″ the document said.
Cohen also said he would have the Navy exercise an option on a joint Air Force-Navy project being built by Cubic’s competitor. This way, Cohen assured Galvin, the competitor would not protest the delivery schedule and he would not have to justify a sole source procurement, the document says.
However, Colvin Wellborn, president of Cubic, didn’t like the plan. Wellborn told Galvin in a phone conversation May 21, 1987, there was adequate justification for giving Cubic the contract as a sole source and ″he saw no reason to do a ‘crooked’ competition,″ the affidavit said.
The document says that later that day Galvin told Wellborn that Cohen had changed his mind and the contract would be given to Cubic as a sole source.
The $9.8 million contract was awarded to Cubic in December 1987.
The affidavit, which was used to justify a search last June of Cohen’s home in Potomac, Md., does not tie a specific payment from Cubic or Galvin to Cohen for that contract or for other contracts mentioned.
However, the document alleged that ″Cohen’s willingness to assist Cubic in obtaining government contracts can be traced to what is believed to be the receipt of a payment from Cubic.″ The section in the affidavit that follows that statement was deleted, as were other parts of the document at the request of the U.S. attorney’s office.
The affidavit also says that Cohen appears to have been paid by Galvin and two of his other clients - Unisys Corp. and Loral Electronic Systems Division.
A receptionist in Cohen’s office said he was ″on leave″ and could not be reached for comment. His home telephone number is unpublished.
Cubic and Loral are closed for the holidays and officials could not be reached for comment. Charles F.C. Ruff, an attorney for Unisys, said he had no comment.
The Cohen affidavit and portions of two others were released on Tuesday in response to a lawsuit by The Washington Post. A hearing is scheduled for Friday to determine whether portions of the affidavits that were deleted should also be unsealed.
The other two affidavits supported searches of the Berwyn Heights, Md., house of Richard Seelmeyer, a self-employed consultant, and the Rockville, Md., home and office of consultant Bill Sanda.
These locations along with Cohen’s home were among 40 locations raided by FBI agents last June, when the case was first revealed. No indictments have been handed down.
Prosecutors have said they have evidence that consultants, including some former top Pentagon officials who worked for the nation’s largest defense contractors, bribed Defense Department officials for information that helped them win billions of dollars in government contracts.