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Executives, Company Plead Innocent to Fraud Charges

January 3, 1986

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Eight Paradyne Corp. executives and the company have pleaded innocent to charges that they fraudulently won the largest contract ever awarded by the Social Security Administration.

U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich on Thursday tentatively set a Sept. 8 trial date.

The company and executives are charged with conspiracy, bribery, perjury and obstruction of justice in winning a $115 million contract in 1981 to computerize Social Security field offices.

The company, barred Monday from receiving further government contracts pending resolution of the charges, wants the case handled as soon as possible, said Paradyne attorney Whitten Peters.

Company officials earlier said the suspension would cost Paradyne about 5 percent of its revenues. Paradyne listed $290 million in gross revenues in 1984.

U.S. Magistrate Paul Game accepted the innocent pleas of the executives and of a lawyer entering a plea for the corporation.

Free on $25,000 signature bonds were Robert S. Wiggin, Paradyne chairman; former vice presidents John Applegate and Verney Brown; Francis Dolan, director of federal marketing; vice presidents Cletus Gardenhour, George Pressly and F. William Siegrist; and Jorge Suarez, former director of advanced development.

The company officials will need court permission to trvel abroad, however, said Game.

Federal prosecutors accused Paradyne of faking a computer demonstration during the bidding process by showing equipment that either wasn’t owned or wasn’t fully developed.

The company also is accused of bribing former Social Security Administration official Kenneth Barry, who has been charged in the case but was absent from Thursday’s hearing.

Barry is serving a six-year sentence on related charges and may be arraigned next week, officials said.

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