Last of SPAWAR Defendants Sentenced to Prison

Gary Alexander, a former branch head at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) was sentenced today (April 12) to 75 months in prison for his role in the long-running military contract fraud case. Alexander was told to forfeit $332,072 and pay $171,288 in restitution. Defense subcontractor Elizabeth Ramos was sentenced to 18 months of imprisonment, and her husband, Louis Williams, was sentenced to serve a year and a day. Alexander and his wife Kelly accepted bribes at SPAWAR to steer contracts to companies. Gary Alexander used his influence to steer $4.8 million in subcontracts to the company of Ramos and Williams, Technical Logistics Corp. Alexander got cash in return. Four others, including Kelly Alexander, have been sentenced in the case brought by the U.S. Attorney's office.

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It is about time (har, har) that these jokers did some hard time. One can only wonder how many other spots in the military procurement system have been abused and corrupted in much the same way. This does not make me feel confident that the DoD is getting its money's worth from many or most of its contractors.

Response to post #1: Yes, this scam almost seemed too easy. Even the attempted coverup seemed sloppy. One certainly wonders how much of this is going on. Best, Don Bauder

It used to be much worse than this, actually. It was almost obscene in the late fifties and early sixties. I have an excellent story from my youth, when I worked in what once was the largest aluminum and magnesium foundry on the West Coast, happily retold if anyone's interested. It makes Eisenhower's warning appear less futuristic and based more on what he already knew.

Response to post #3: Please -- go ahead and tell it. San Diego got lots of headlines back in the 1950s and 1960s for hanky-panky at General Dynamics and other defense contractors. Best, Don Bauder

When I was sixteen, I began working full time in a foundry, and back then in the ‘70’s, foundries were still the only way to get parts with complex shapes as machining hadn’t advanced to the point where it is now. One foundry I worked for in the late seventies into the eighties was once called South Gate Aluminum and Magnesium, later called A & M Casting, and now defunct, the building bulldozed and replaced with something else. But foundries were once important key elements for the military, every bit as important as the larger corporations like G.D. or Douglas. A few of the older foundrymen were there when South Gate Aluminum and Magnesium was in its prime; the first foundry on the West Coast, for example, to boast on overhead delivery system for sand used in making molds. Back in the fifties, that was modern technology – now, it’s as obsolete as the buggy whip.

As a young buck I was often called on to task the wishes of the lady who had recently inherited the place from her father, and at that point the foundry industry was in its last decade. But in performing these tasks, I learned more than I likely should have. Above the foundry in the massive old building that housed it, there were two enormous multi-room suites, neither of which had been touched in two decades. One suite had three bedrooms, the other two. There was a full-sized billiards table (red felt no less), with a wet bar in each suite. I felt as though I had walked back in time, into some luxurious set in Hollywood in 1955. I dared not ask her any questions (she was the consummate sixty-come-forty year old diva), but I found out plenty from the old men in that foundry.

In a large room, closed and demolished by the time I started to work there, there was also a swimming pool that once could be accessed from the suites – and this pool was also over the foundry, imagine that. During the Eisenhower administration, when aerospace had cut its umbilical cord, that foundry regularly entertained military officers, executives that assigned purchasing directives. According to the older foundrymen, parties were thrown there, military officers and executives from prime contractors were in attendance, and very attractive young ladies – ostensibly hostesses – were provided. This was, apparently, how business was done back then. The press was not invited.

While I did not see the swimming pool, nor was I around to witness the parties or the hostesses, I did see the suites on several occasions. They were, empirically but undoubtedly, luxurious bachelor pads used to lure contracts from the military. As shameless as money bribes are nowadays, I can’t imagine anything more shameless than those parties must have been back in the fifties.

Response to post #5: That's a great story. I am glad you told it. And I am really sorry that all the evidence has been bulldozed. I could see that as the basis for a novel or a movie. Best, Don Bauder

RE #6:

One got something of the sense of it during the congressional testimony scenes of Howard Hughes in THE AVIATOR (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0338751/), but not nearly alluded to in as much depth and detail as in refriedgringo's story above...

On the other hand, there were some off-campus parties near SDSU at which I may or may not have been in attendance that seem vaguely similar...

Great story, Refried. That you got to see this is really something.

This is kind of out of left field, but I remember "hanky-panky" (I love that phrase!) going on at the Butcher Shop Restaurant when I first moved to San Diego. I tried to find some information on it and it seems to have been wiped clean. In the early nineties, some of my loan officer buddies used to take their appraisers there for the lunch lingerie show. Showed them a good time so they would bring their appraisals in right where they needed them. So, I guess this sort of thing will always go on.

Ahhhh, the old "Butcher Shop".......... :)

Response to post #7: Fortunately, I went to the University of Wisconsin, where no such off-campus parties were ever held. The students had their noses in the books at all times when they were not in class. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #8: More than lingerie shows went on at the Butcher Shop, I understand. Is the joint still open? Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #9: You say the "old" Butcher Shop. I assume that means it is now closed. Pity. Somebody look it up and confirm, please. Best, Don Bauder

It is still open. I think it was sold recently. It's really difficult to find history on this place.

Oh, SP is referring to the "old" Butcher shop in the sense that in the later '90s they cleaned up their act and changed the uniforms to these ugly button down shirts and jean skirts. He was waxing nostalgic for the short grecian style tunics the "waitresses" wore and the shenanigans going on in the secret back rooms. As in "the good old days".

Response to post #13: Back in the "good old days" the general manager of one of the tv stations was visited by a big shot from out of town who wanted to enjoy some extracurricular services. The g.m. was a family man and didn't know where to send him. So he called the then-police chief who recommended the Butcher Shop. Best, Don Bauder

@ #14: Priceless! Sounds like the wild, wild West! Know the approximate year, Don? Around when I was born (in San Diego) my father was in the Navy, but my mother worked for channel six (in the news department). I'm curious if I can relate that to her and she might know about it as well.

Don, please do a story on this!! It is way overdue.

I loved the Butcher Shop. Had many a lunch there, and when friend's and boyfriend's parents came to town and asked where to have dinner, it was always the Butcher Shop. This was when you could have a cigarette with your meal, and the waitresses would light it for you. I know it sounds awful now, in this PC age, but I adored going there. I knew a little bit about the history, having heard stories about the goings on, but that just made it all the more attractive to me. The clubby seating, the velvet wallpaper, the leggy waitresses!! Oh, it was heaven!! I felt like a grown-up when I went there. I hated when they changed to "uniforms" for the staff. These women were gorgeous, tall and built to last, and deserved to be known as the best "asset" they had to offer. I don't know what happened, but I have fond memories of being one of the few girls that really appreciated the Butcher Shop for what it was. The last male bastion. Hate me if you will, but I loved it.

Response to post #15: I hesitate to give you an approximate date, for obvious reasons. The former tv station manager (his title was better than that) has been dead for many years. The then-police chief is still alive -- well, sort of. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #16: Your post should attract some females to this blog. I have no way of knowing the gender of most of our contributors, although some, like SurfPup, are almost certainly males. Your post is one that should alarm, annoy and enrage some on the distaff side, and arouse some males, too. To the best of my memory (which is getting faulty), I was only in the Butcher Shop once, and believe it or not, I don't have any particular memories of the experience. I was there on OTHER business. Best, Don Bauder

The owner of the Butcher Shop, the late Roberto de Phillipis, got a great treatment from the U-T not long before he died. He had satellite Butcher Shops in Chula Vista and Kearny Mesa, but the one in the Plaza International Hotel in MV was the flagship. de Phillipis did a stint in federal prison in the 70's for fraud and income tax evasion. The federal judge who sent him up did not do the usual several weeks of time before surrendering to start the sentence. That judge had him slapped in handcuffs and frog marched to the slammer, saying that he was one of the worst criminals he/she had ever encountered. The boss was out in a few years and back in the saddle. When the U-T ran that sickening puff piece on him, he dismissed his time in the pokey as due to some mistakes he'd made on his taxes! Yeah, like millions!

In case you might miss the old days, Filipi's Pizza parlors started from the same family. Their connection today is less clear. The former Filipis in Del Mar became Papachino's in the Flower Hill Center. One in Vista opened under the name Mama's and Papa's. The more things change, the more . . .

The former tv station manager (his title was better than that) has been dead for many years.

He went by Clay.

Response to post #19: You always come up with such great history, Visduh. Remember the U-T obituary for John Alessio? It was an encomium. He was a saint. The only recognition that he had spent time in the slammer was his statement that he was not bitter about the prosecutors who put him there. There was no mention, of course, that he really wasn't in prison; he was in a trailer outside the prison, and he was entertaining ladies of the evening there. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #20: Damn, you're smart, Burwell. The only reason I didn't mention the tv veep's name is then people would know who the police chief was. Best, Don Bauder

re: #5 and 6: Pardon, late to the convo, but that story was fabulous, refried, and the suites and rooms and pool worthy of some film treatment indeed--as is the subject of lurid procurement of military contracts and bribes for multi-nefarious favors.

One such treatment: Tony Richardson's The Loved One (1965):

The Reverend Glenworthy(Jonathan Winters) of the pricey and cultish Whispering Glades (spoofing Forest Lawn) is plotting to disinter the caskets and launch them into space, thus freeing the cemetery for valuable land use as a senior citizen's home (a business with a "brisker turnover"). He had planned to initiate this program with the cooperation of Air Force General Brinkman by using the body of an astronaut for the first corpse launch ("Resurrection Now!"). To introduce the idea to the General, Glenworthy holds a "business conference" for Brinkman and his officers in his cathedral-like suites above Whispering Glades's main halls, in a "casket showroom" replete with wet bar and sleazy cocktail lounge soundtrack. The military elite is creeped out at first, when invited to "try out" the various models. But just then the lids of the caskets begin to slowly rise, and stiletto-clad gams emerge, pointing impishly. They are, of course, soon followed by other attractive model parts. "San Antone!" cries one officer, charging forward.

;)

Response to post #23: It seems to me that 1965 was around the time of "Dr. Strangelove," one of the great movies of all time."The Loved One" certainly sounds like a winner, too. Best, Don Bauder

I'll have to make it a point to check out that movie, SD, sounds great!

It's funny to think back on those times, that even though I wasn't privy to it until well after its heyday, it must have been so damned scandalous. And you look at things now, and I reckon everything's relative, thousands of dollars have turned into millions, and then billions, and so on. It occurs to me that perhaps there are various industries that will never cease to be profitable. Prostitution, certainly, and corruption, obviously, along with health care and combustion, perhaps. Oil, that's the one that's really dirty these days.

I spend far too much time with people telling me how corrupt Mexico is, that the Government here owns the oil companies. Of course, in the U.S., the oil companies own the Government, so I reckon it's a pick your poison scenario. As for all of that buying and selling of military contracts back when I was impressed by the audacity of human folly over where the money went, I can't honestly say that I'm surprised about all that's going on now.

But as I got older, and hopefuly wiser, the one ironic thing I recognize was that the public in the U.S. during those times was sold the same bill of goods that the German public was sold during the rise of Hitler. The threat of communism was the tool back then. Perhaps nowadays its oil. The U.S. is concerned about Iran developing nuclear weapons, when they don't even have their own oil refinery. I almost can't wait to see what happens next.

Tony Richardson's "The Loved One" (1965), I'm on it.

Thanks for the tip.

Actually, the San Diego chapter of the American Marketing Association had its monthly dinner meetings at the Plaza International, which meant the Butcher Shop was the caterer. That was in the 70's and into the early 80's and might have continued for many years after (but I can't testify to that.)

It was the only banquet facility in town that provided a prime rib dinner for a price that members would pay, I was told. Elsewhere you paid about that much for rubber chicken. It WAS a prime rib dinner, but it was served hastily and perfunctorily, the quality and quantity was not all that great, and the facility was not comfortable or inviting. The waitresses--the waitstaff was all female--were all hard-faced and in a hurry to be done with the meal. Want a cup of coffee? Good luck! Were they in a hurry to head home, or to go to work?

Response to post #25: We've evolved into a system that some writers are now calling "fascist." Totalitarianism so often arises in what we consider democracy. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #27: Maybe they were going BOTH home and to work. It's called "work-at-home." Best, Don Bauder

Visduh, I'm a lesser man for not knowing you when you did what you did in San Diego, great story. It's funny that I'm a San Diego native by birthright, but I've missed so much history here. I wouldn't relive my life for anything, but that doesn't mean I don't lament not having closer ties to the history of this place during my LA years. I'd have traded those years for a slice of that roast beef ;)

refried, I think I'm older than you, maybe as much as a decade. I arrived in SD just 40 years ago, and have done various things since then. Honestly, I never thought I had anything to tell that was very interesting. I also have a memory for trivia, which I often describe as a "dustbin of details." I try to avoid being just another old f__t who reminisces endlessly about things that are best forgotten.

"I try to avoid being just another old f__t who reminisces endlessly about things that are best forgotten."

Ha! Maybe I'm a decade younger. I reckon I keep trying to remembering things I probably shouldn't. But that "dustbin of details" makes for some great writing sometimes. At least, I hope so ;)

Response to post #30: Maybe you thought you wouldn't return when you were in LA, and considered SD history irrelevant. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #31: Certainly, the history lessons you provide to this blog are not idle reminiscences. They're pertinent. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post #32: You may be a decade younger than Visduh, but that doesn't make either of you babes in arms. Best, Don Bauder

In my cab days The Butcher Shop was less notorious than other Mission Valley spots. All hotels have call girls. Men are so idiotic that they might proposition prostitutes in a prominent watering hole recommended by the chief of police, then be surprised when they are extorted by their co-conspirators. Stick with the street girls, idiots, and don't give your real name. If you need a buddy to help you go whoring, why not buy some KY jelly and skip the girl? Saves money.

E. Waugh THE LOVED ONE is a great little novel. The movie, co-written by Terry Southern of the incomparable DR. STRANGELOVE, must have some great lines. I'm looking for it.

Response to post #36: You have discussed enough events from your past that I don't think you have to worry about a bartender asking you for your I.D. Best, Don Bauder

Response to post 37: Gentlemen, consider the advice of one with experience, Psychcolizard. It reminds me of the definition of a sociologist. "A sociologist is a scholar who will spend $1 million of the government's money to pinpoint the location of every whorehouse in town, when for five bucks he could have asked a taxicab driver." Best, Don Bauder

Some caveats. As a cabdriver, I did not give or recieve free rides. My advice was delivered at maximum safe speed with the meter running. 120 an hour would be a fair rate today. Cheaper than a psychiatrist, and the view is better. As for quality, if Eliot Spitzer had listened to his cabdriver, who knows how to avoid trouble, he would be governor of New York today.

Response to post #40: Eliot Spitzer made several mistakes, one of which was not realizing that Wall Street was gunning for him. Lerach made the same mistake. I am not saying that they did not deserve their punishments. I am saying that they should have known that the business/financial community would enlist government in an effort to get them. Taxicab drivers could have told them that. Best, Don Bauder

Normally the customer uses an alias, I think that's why they call them 'johns'. Strangely, in many high profile cases, men smart enough to know better let their own name be known. Perhaps those who fight so hard to make themselves famous just can't blend into the wallpaper, even when they must.

Often these high profile cases make their egomaniac perpetrators seem more endearing, because it reveals the helpless, lonely child underneath the blustering facade. All day and into the evening the greedy rule the earth, but not after midnight.

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