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Retired Navy captain pleads guilty to conflict-of-interest charge in dealing with defense firm

October 8, 2010 | 12:38 pm

A retired Navy captain has pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to a misdemeanor conflict-of-interest violation in connection with his dealings with a defense contractor before his retirement.

Patrick Seidel, 51, a veteran submariner, was negotiating with the defense firm about a job while also helping the firm potentially receive a contract with the Navy to provide technology enhancing the service's anti-submarine program, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

At the time, Seidel was major-program manager for maritime surveillance at Naval Sea Systems Command in San Diego, involved with contracts for ocean surveillance systems.

After negotiating with the unnamed firm for several months, Seidel retired in late 2005 and took a job with the firm, receiving a $25,000 "signing bonus," according to documents.

Seidel had invited the defense firm to send employees to inquire about Navy contracts, sent Navy personnel to the firm to discuss possible contracts, and talked with Navy officials about the firm, according to documents in the case.

Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal on Friday sentenced Seidel to one year of probation and a $15,000 fine.

The name of the defense firm or whether the firm did anything improper was not disclosed by prosecutors and is not mentioned in court documents.

"Public employees may not use their influence over the awarding of defense contracts when seeking employment with a defense contractor," said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

Seidel's attorney, Jeffrey Jacobovitz, said that Seidel was guilty of a technical violation but not a wilful one. He noted that his client's one year of probation will be unsupervised.

"Capt. Seidel had a distinguished military career and served the U.S. for 25 years," Jacobovitz said in a statement. "He has fully accepted responsibility for his actions."

-- Tony Perry in San Diego