Second contractor with Murtha ties pleads guilty

A former Air Force contractor pleaded guilty Monday to a false statement and conflict-of-interest charge in a widening case involving several defense companies with ties to Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.).

Mark O’Hair faces up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine for omitting any reference to his position as a director of a defense company on financial disclosure forms required for his position as a civilian program officer. The company received more than $200,000 in government contracts while O’Hair was in charge of awarding contractors for the Air Force Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

After retiring from the Air Force in 2001, O’Hair became the senior electronic engineer with the Air Force Research Lab Munitions. Two years later, he became the contracts program manager for the Battlefield Airman program, which was designed to improve the military’s battlefield communications systems.

O’Hair is the second defense contractor is a week to plead guilty and agree to cooperate with a federal probe of earmarked contracts Murtha directed to several companies.

Last week, Richard Ianieri, the former chief executive of Coherent Systems International Corp., pleaded guilty to accepting $200,000 in kickbacks from companies that he directed work toward from a government contract. In 2007, Murtha directed a $4 million earmark to Coherent.

O’Hair’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for October.