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October 19, 2004The AP reports:
Two former Los Alamos National Laboratory employees accused of being part of a purchasing scandal that rocked the nuclear lab two years ago have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and mail fraud.
Peter Bussolini, 66, and Scott Alexander, 42, each entered guilty pleas in federal court Monday.The Albuquerque Journal's Adam Rankin elaborates on how Los Alamos management prevented employees from voicing their concerns:
Top Los Alamos National Laboratory managers tried to quash the release of a highly critical internal report highlighting procurement fraud and financial waste, generated in response to congressional inquiries in 2003, according to testimony from a lab whistle-blower. For years, LANL's Tommy Hook, a former senior adviser for audits in the lab's Internal Evaluation Office, said he remained loyal to the weapons research facility where he has worked for 23 years. Then he realized that mechanisms for raising concerns and for protecting workers against management retaliation for speaking out are broken. "It just got to the point where we weren't going to let this go," he said after testifying Friday to the Legislature's Los Alamos National Laboratory Oversight Committee....
"This is a very sad day for me personally," Hook said, because he said he tried to resolve his differences internally with laboratory and UC management for close to a year with no success....
Hook and longtime laboratory employee and critic Chuck Monta�o came before the state oversight committee asking the committee to press for congressional hearings on whistle-blower retaliation and abuse at the laboratory. Monta�o, a 26-year lab employee and certified auditor, testified to the committee on behalf of the Hispanic Round Table, which has been fighting the laboratory over what it considers inequity in pay involving the laboratory's minority workers. Monta�o said LANL managers retaliated against him for speaking out by not assigning him any work for nine months. Hook said he had no work for six months. [all emphasis POGO's]Additionally, ex-police investigators Glenn Walp and Steve Doran--hired to investigate fraud at Los Alamos--were fired when they began uncovering fraud--the job they were hired to do! Working with POGO, other organizations and the media, Walp and Doran got Congress to pay attention to the fraud at Los Alamos and to demand accountability (visit POGO's archive on financial mismanagement at LANL). From the illustrious Noah Schactman's Defense Tech "here's a partial list of some of the things Bussolini and Alexander bought on your dime [at Los Alamos National Laboratory]:" 5 Genesis Gold barbeque gas grills 1 19" Panasonic television/VCR combination set 4 Cobra 75 WV CB radios 3 30 Watt solar panels 3 automatic double gate openers w/ remotes 2 Wyoming saws 8 picnic tables 4 sage-colored Cabela Deluxe Arm Chair 38 chamois shirts 15 pairs of thinsulate gloves 152 assorted knives, including 8 "SOG M37 Seal Pup Knives" 13 motorcycle helmets 12 headlamps 5 ULT Command Center monitors 24 camping lanterns 4 olive drab ATV covers 1 Carhart XXXL coat 3 pair New Balance hiking boots 15 sleeping bags 4 sleeping pads 4 reclining loungers 4 "Portable Buddy Heaters" 6 parkas 5 "Portable Catalytic Heaters" 4 "Pocket Chain Saws" 4 "Deluxe Ratchet Pruners" 6 knife-sharpeners 6 Magellan Map 330M GPS units 8 pocket & micro torches 3 goretex jackets 4 stand-up heaters 3 pairs of "Polarized Lenses" 4 Rangesafe Ear Muffs 4 "Ultimate 10 Hearing Protectors"