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Ex-Boeing official charged in rocket probe

A third former Boeing Co. official was charged Tuesday in connection with the theft of sensitive materials from rival Lockheed Martin Corp. during a competition for a $1.88 billion satellite launching contract, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A third former Boeing Co. official was charged Tuesday in connection with the theft of sensitive materials from rival Lockheed Martin Corp. during a competition for a $1.88 billion satellite launching contract, authorities said.

In an arrest warrant, Larry Satchell, 65, of Newport Beach was charged with conspiracy, obstruction of justice, theft of trade secrets and violation of the Procurement Integrity Act, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The complaint said Satchell was the head of a "capture team" that was responsible for gaining information about possible rival bids for the rocket launch work that Boeing was seeking.

Last August, Kenneth Branch and William Erskine pleaded innocent to charges that they plotted to secure trade secrets from Lockheed Martin. Each faces a single federal count of conspiracy to conceal and possess trade secrets.

Boeing fired the two men in 1999 after an internal investigation. Satchell has retired. A call to Robert Corbin, Satchell's attorney, was not immediately returned.

Last summer, the Air Force banned Boeing from future satellite launches to punish it for stealing extensive information from Lockheed Martin during the 1998 competition for the launch contract.

The Air Force probe found that Branch, Erskine and Satchell broke the law and would be barred from participating in any future rocket contracts.

Satchell, Branch and Erskine also have been named in a civil suit brought by Lockheed in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Fla. The suit alleges Boeing and the employees broke federal and Florida racketeering and antitrust laws.