First Gusts from an Ill Wind

Unlike the Iran-contra investigation, another drawn-out federal probe was finally starting to produce results. Operation Ill Wind -- the two-year Justice Department inquiry into whether defense contractors bribed Pentagon officials for contract information -- blew in its first indictments and guilty pleas. Two defense contractors and nine men, including a middle-ranking Pentagon official, were hit with charges that include fraud, conspiracy, racketeering and bribery.

The charges focused on William Parkin and Fred Lackner, both private defense consultants, and Stuart E. Berlin, former head of the Navy's ship- engineering section at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. Court papers describe a...

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