Ex-Boeing chief gets four months in jail

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The Independent Online
The former chief financial officer of Boeing was sentenced to four months in prison yesterday for his part in recruiting a senior airforce official to the company while she was in charge of handing out multimillion-dollar government defence contracts.

The former chief financial officer of Boeing was sentenced to four months in prison yesterday for his part in recruiting a senior airforce official to the company while she was in charge of handing out multimillion-dollar government defence contracts.

Michael Sears was also ordered to pay a $250,000 (£132,000) fine for negotiating a senior job at Boeing for Darleen Druyun, who was responsible for overseeing company contracts with the Air Force. "I know what I did was wrong and I'm truly sorry," Sears told the court.

Druyun, the Air Force's former No 2 weapons buyer, was sentenced last year to nine months in prison for talking to Sears about the $250,000 job.

Sears met Druyun in Orlando, Florida, in October 2002. The next day, Sears reported what he called the "non-meeting" to the three other members of a newly created Office of the Chairman, as well as to James Albaugh, the president of Boeing's Integrated Defense Systems business unit.

In an e-mail to his colleagues, Sears discussed a possible $50,000 signing bonus but did not mention by name Druyun, who at the time was still negotiating a $20bn-plus plan to lease and buy 100 modified Boeing KC-767 aerial refuelling tankers.

The emergence of the scandal has shaken Boeing, after Druyun ­ who also arranged jobs at the company for her daughter and son-in-law ­ admitted to the court that she had given favourable treatment to Boeing as far back as 2000. It lost a $23bn government contract after the inappropriate contact between Sears and Druyun emerged.

Boeing, based in Chicago, is America's second-biggest defence contractor. It fired Sears and Druyun in November 2003. Phil Condit resigned as Boeing chairman and chief executive a week later.

Sears told prosecutors that no other Boeing officials were aware that Druyun was still responsible for major procurement decisions at the time she was discussing a job with Boeing. However Boeing may yet face civil charges arising from the scandal from shareholders or rivals.

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