Malcolm W. Cagle, one of three former Navy officers on trial for allegedly trying to induce the Iranian government to sign a contract with a private company in which they had an interest, testified yesterday that he had specifically recommended the company to the Iranian government.
But Cagle testified in U.S. District Court in Alexandria that he only recommended Lulejian and Associates, Inc., when the Iranian Navy asked him to "name specific company capable of" training 2,000 Iranian officers and enlisted men. He said he had previously mentioned about 10 other American firms that also could do the work satisfactorily.
Cagle went to work for Lulejian shortly after retiring from the Navy in August, 1974.
Cagel further testified that although he recommended Lulejian for the contract he had not presented the Iranian government with a detailed plan the company had prepared for the training because he did not think it would be proper.
The three defendants in the case are charged with conspiring to defraud the U.S. government and then concealing the scheme. Besides Cagle, who lives in Lynchburg, Va., and is a retired vice admiral and former chief of training and education for the Navy, the defendants are James N. Hooper, of Pensacola, Fla., a retired Navy captain and Cagle's deputy, and Dominic A. Paolucci of Alexandria, a retired Navy captain and former president of Lulejian.
The week-long trial has revolved around the twin issues of whether the three men made an effort to conceal the training contract deal from the U.S. Navy and whether they were offered jobs by Lulejian for their help in pushing the company's interests with the Iranians.
Cagle said that although Col. Norai Lulejian, the company's chief executive officer, had talked to him about joining the company after Cagle retired from the Navy, he had made no commitments about a job. Hooper testified on Friday that he, too, had made no retirement plans before leaving the Navy in August, 1974.
Cagle was asked by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Hubbard why he had written a letter to Lt. Gen. Dvol Brett, head of the U.S. military assistance mission in Iran in 1974, that Lulejian was "agreeable" to Cagle's "silent direction" of supervise the Iranian training project.
Cagle replied that he saw the advisory group, which was to be made up of retired Navy admirals, as a way for the U.S. Navy to be represented in the project so it could monitor the work being performed by Lulejian or any other contractor. Cagle also wrote Brett that Hooper had agreed to join Lulejian, Cagle explained, because Hooper had indicated he would be willing to serve with any contractor chosen.
Hooper, who took the stand for the second time yesterday, said he had no knowledge of the letters Cagle had written to Brett. In fact, Hooper testified, he had not seen the letters until he began to prepare for the trial.