WASHINGTON (Mar. 29)
A now-defunct Israeli defense firm may have tried to bribe the Navy $500,000 into awarding it a contract to build more ground control stations for unmanned spy aircraft in 1986 and 1987, a well-placed Israeli defense lobbyist here said Thursday.
But the lobbyist added that any attempted bribe by the firm, Mazlat Ltd., to influence the Pentagon to build them was unsuccessful, because the Pentagon decided instead to seek new types of ground stations.
Ground control stations provide the electronics for monitoring and maneuvering unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.
The ground station contract was eventually awarded to Teledyne Inc. of Los Angeles. Mazlat, which was a joint venture of two Israeli firms, Israel Aircraft Industries and Tadiran Ltd., did not even bid on it, the lobbyist added.
The lobbyist was reacting to a guilty plea entered Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., by a once-prominent U.S. defense industry consultant, who said he bribed high-level U.S. officials in 1986 and 1987 to influence the awarding of various Pentagon contracts.
The ex-consultant, William Galvin, said in a plea agreement released Wednesday that Mazlat secretly agreed to pay him and Melvyn Paisley, a then-assistant secretary of the navy, $500,000 each to seek approval of new ground control contracts for Mazlat.
AGREED TO LOBBY
In the plea agreement, Galvin said he and two Israeli businessmen, Uri Simhoni and Mazlat president Zvi Schiller, met in April 1986 with Paisley, who agreed to lobby on Mazlat’s behalf.
The Washington Post reported that in one instance, “Paisley had a phone brought to the restaurant table where he and one of the businessmen were having lunch and ordered a Navy officer to meet with the businessmen.”
The New York Times reported Thursday that Galvin did influence Paisley to ask U.S. defense contractors to submit proposals to construct short-range ground stations similar to a version bought by the Navy from Mazlat.
Mazlat’s one major U.S. defense contract was awarded in late 1985, before any of the alleged bribes took place.
That contract, to build Pioneer shorter range UAVs and accompanying ground stations, is worth between $70 million to $80 million to Mazlat and the Baltimore-based AAI Corp., which had been the prime contractor in the project.
The Israeli defense lobbyist said that if the allegations of a Mazlat bribe were true, “it means that money was stolen from the company.”
Galvin pleaded guilty to various federal conspiracy and bribery charges.
The Post reported that Mazlat paid Galvin’s Swiss company $268,000. But it is unclear whether Paisley ever received any of the money.
Galvin is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 3 and faces a possible prison sentence of 40 years and a $1 million fine.