- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A federal investigation into defense contractors, including some with links to Rep. John P. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, appears to be gathering steam - and valuable help.

Mark O’Hair, a Defense Department program manager, pleaded guilty Monday to making a false statement on a federal disclosure form. He acknowledged lying about business ties he had to companies that received money from a military contract he oversaw.

The plea agreement, reached in federal court in Florida, does not specify a penalty for O’Hair. But the plea deal does require O’Hair to cooperate with federal agents.

It’s the second guilty plea and pledge of cooperation that prosecutors have won recently in a swirl of charges of kickbacks and corruption surrounding several defense contractors with which Mr. Murtha has ties.

Mr. Murtha has been listed as one of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which has accused him of inappropriately doling out earmarks to defense contractors that have contributed to his campaign.

Last week, Richard Ianieri, the former president of the defense contractor Coherent Systems International, pleaded guilty to taking bribes from a subcontractor. Ianieri also has ties to Mr. Murtha.

Robert C. “Kit” Murtha, the congressman’s younger brother, was listed as a KSA Consulting lobbyist for Coherent from August 2004 to the end of 2006. During that time, KSA was paid at least $20,000 in lobbying fees by Coherent, according to the Senate’s Lobbying Disclosure Act Database.

Mr. Murtha and his brother have not been named in court documents or mentioned by prosecutors in either the O’Hair or the Ianieri case.

“Congressman Murtha has said all along that if these individuals and companies broke the law, then they should be held accountable, period,” spokesman Matt Mazonkey said.

While the name “Murtha” does not appear in court documents in O’Hair’s case, the name “Ianieri” does.

O’Hair, who worked for the Air Force and oversaw contracts, supervised the awarding of an $8 million contract to Ianieri’s company. But authorities say Ianieri’s company, which had hired Robert Murtha, funneled some of that money to companies in which O’Hair had a financial interest, which was the basis for the charges against him.

• Jerry Seper and Chuck Neubauer contributed to this report.

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