Manuel M. Caldera, who in 1983 was voted Hispanic Businessman of the Year, was sentenced Friday to a year in prison for conspiring to bribe Navy officials to add millions in profits to his company's military communications contracts.
Caldera, 59, also was ordered by U.S. District Judge Claude M. Hilton in Alexandria to pay $25,000 in fines. Caldera already has paid the government $100,000 to defray costs of the investigation. In announcing the sentence, the judge suspended six months of the one-year jail term.
Caldera, who held minor appointments in the Ford and Carter administrations, became the 35th person successfully prosecuted in the Operation Ill Wind investigation of Pentagon procurement fraud when he pleaded guilty to two conspiracy counts in September.
Caldera said before sentencing yesterday that he regretted his
actions, adding that they brought shame to his family and "diminished my position as a role model in the Hispanic community, which I worked very hard to get."
Caldera founded Amex Systems Inc. in Los Angeles 20 years ago with a handful of employees and built a thriving business that generated revenue of more than $62 million, in large part through defense contracts that were set aside for minority-owned contractors.
Caldera admitted in court papers paying two Navy procurement officials more than $28,000 to increase the duration and value of contracts involving shipboard satellite receivers and communications systems.
Daniel J. Piliero II, Caldera's attorney, said his client's status as a minority group member in a world of high-tech business may have played a role in his downfall. "His business was one in which minorities were not accepted," Piliero said.
In court documents submitted by Caldera's attorneys, Caldera alleged that Amex had been held hostage by Navy officials who threatened to cut off contracts unless Caldera offered them money.