Risk Management

Guilty Plea Planned by Former Boeing Exec

For the onetime Air Force acquisition official, a job opportunity and a multibillion-dollar manufacturing deal may have led to a conflict of interest.
Dave CookApril 14, 2004

Darleen Druyun, Boeing Co.’s former vice president and deputy general manager of missile-defense systems, will plead guilty to conspiracy next week, according to wire service reports.

She has been under investigation for possible conflicts of interest regarding a multibillion-dollar Air Force deal to lease and buy Boeing 767s as refueling tankers.

In October 2002, Druyun — then the Air Force’s No. 2 acquisition official — met with former Boeing chief financial officer Michael Sears to discuss a job opportunity at the manufacturer. Druyun didn’t disqualify herself from working on Boeing business until November 5, reported Bloomberg, which added that she left the Air Force later that month and joined Boeing in January 2003.

Boeing spokesman John Dern told the news service that Sears failed to follow Boeing procedures for hiring government officials, and that an internal review found that Sears and Druyun tried to conceal their misconduct. They were fired last November 24.

(Two weeks earlier, and perhaps no coincidence, the company had announced the creation of a new Office of Internal Governance, which would report directly to chairman and chief executive officer Phil Condit. Too little, too late: Condit resigned a week after Sears and Druyun were dismissed.)

After the firing of Druyun and Sears, the Pentagon ordered a report on the deal, which was released last week, according to The Washington Post. Though the report did not recommend that the program be scuttled, it did say that the arrangement put the Pentagon “at high risk for paying excessive prices and profits and precludes good fiduciary responsibility for DOD funds,” wrote the Post. Pending the conclusion of other government investigations, added the paper, “the deal is expected to remain in limbo.”

Druyun’s plea hearing is scheduled for April 20. She has not been charged, according to wire service reports, but sources familiar with the case said that Druyun is cooperating in the investigation. Druyun faces up to five years in prison if she pleads guilty to conspiracy.

A lawyer for Druyun, a spokesman for Boeing, and federal prosecutors all declined comment to The Washington Post. Sears’s attorney, James Streiker, did not return a call for comment, but the Post noted that Sears has previously denied wrongdoing.