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Former Sable Communications President George Greene says Hitachi Data Systems Corp. gave him money and encouraged him to bribe Fulton County, Ga., officials. In federal court a year ago, Greene testified that he offered the payoffs on behalf of his small computer company. However, if his new allegations are true they could draw Hitachi, an international data and electronics company based in Tokyo, into the federal probe of corruption in Fulton County government. Hitachi Data Systems is one of 1,069 subsidiaries of Hitachi Ltd., which posted $69.7 billion in sales for the fiscal year 2000. Patrick Crosby, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta, declined comment. Mark S. VanderBroek, a Troutman Sanders attorney who represents Hitachi, says he’s unaware of any federal investigation of his client. “We’re confident that these new allegations are totally false,” he says. “[The men named in Greene's affidavit] categorically denied the allegations, and we believe them.” Greene makes the charges in a July 9 affidavit filed in the tangle of litigation among Greene, his former company — Sable Communications Corporation of Georgia — and Hitachi Data Systems. Sable Communications v. Hitachi Data Systems v. George Greene, No. 00CV30501 (Fult. Super. Nov. 9, 2000). Sable was a subcontractor for Hitachi in the county’s computer contracts. Greene said in his affidavit that Fulton County Information Technology Director John Rowan introduced him to Hitachi employees Joel Petri and Michael Robinson in 1997. Shortly after that meeting, Greene says, Robinson and Petri asked him to help Hitachi win county contracts for Y2K consulting and the design and installation of the Criminal Justice Information System, a database for the county’s court system. “Michael Robinson and Joel Petri arranged for money to be paid to me to aid me in influencing Fulton County officials in their decision to award the Y2K and CJIS contracts to Hitachi,” he said in his affidavit. “The money given to me from Hitachi employees Michael Robinson and Joel Petri was in fact given to Fulton County officials to influence the award of the Y2K and the CJIS contracts to Hitachi. “Hitachi employee Joel Petri was aware of and encouraged the payments made by me to Fulton County officials,” he says. The affidavit does not say how much money was involved in the alleged exchanges. Federal prosecutors accused Greene of passing thousands of dollars to then-Fulton County Commissioner Michael Hightower and Josh Kenyon, chief of staff for former Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis. Greene, Hightower and Kenyon pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to bribery charges early in June 2000. All three now are cooperating with a federal corruption investigation of Fulton County government. Greene and Kenyon haven’t been sentenced. Hightower completed a six-month sentence earlier this year. HITACHI WON CONTRACTS IN ’99 Hitachi won the multimillion-dollar Fulton County contracts in 1999. Sable earned $5.8 million under the Y2K contract and $1.9 million under the CJIS contract, according to the pleadings. VanderBroek, Hitachi’s lawyer, says his client investigated possible involvement by the company when Greene, Hightower and Kenyon pleaded guilty in June 2000. The company found no evidence that any of its employees did anything wrong. VanderBroek wouldn’t say if his clients intend to pursue perjury charges against Sable’s former president. Sable’s suit against Hitachi, and that company’s countersuits against Sable and Greene himself, stemmed from Hitachi’s June 15, 2000, decision to end its contract with Sable, following Greene’s guilty plea. Sable sued, charging breach of contract and tortious interference with a contract. The company is asking an indeterminate sum in compensatory damages, plus $25 million in punitive damages. Sable’s lawyer, Theodore H. Lackland of Lackland & Associates, has argued in the pleadings that Greene’s bribes were completely separate from his role as president of Sable. Greene’s affidavit, however, indicates his efforts were on behalf of Hitachi. “Why would Sable bribe the county on a contract they didn’t get?” Lackland says. Sable didn’t bid on the county contracts but Hitachi indicated in its bid that Sable would perform part of the work. Greene says in his affidavit he “intentionally did not reveal or disclose my payments to Fulton County officials, on behalf of Hitachi,” to other Sable executives, including his wife, Elaine, who now runs the company. In March, Sable lost a bid to lift Fulton County’s ban on doing business with the company. Hitachi responded to Sable’s suit by suing Sable and Greene individually for breach of contract, defamation and fraud. In June Hitachi moved for summary judgment. “By engaging in and concealing their bribery and corruption of the Fulton County procurement process from Hitachi prior to, after, and while negotiating … [the contracts] … Greene and Sable concealed material facts which they were under a duty to disclose,” says Hitachi’s complaint. Hitachi lawyer, VanderBroek, says that Green’s plea testimony in federal court is “more instructive” than his affidavit. In that testimony, he says, Greene and the Fulton County officials said they understood the bribes were to benefit Sable Communications. VanderBroek says Greene’s affidavit goes beyond his plea testimony, and may force him to answer questions in the civil case that he had invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege to avoid. But Greene’s attorney, Jeffrey B. Bogart of Bogart & Bogart, says it won’t cause his client any problems in the criminal case. Greene is already under a “continuing obligation” to assist federal investigators in their probe, he says. “Mr. Greene has been incredibly open and candid with the government,” Bogart says.

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