Thursday morning at 0800 we were standing at the door to Federal Court House. We had a 0815 meeting with all the Feds at this time, before meeting in full court with Black and Bear in attendance. Curtis Warren was with us again for this session.
Marty Coeburn informed us that the FBI with DHS was at ‘Pelican Marsh’ – the Black Bear southern training camp in Louisiana – in full force at daybreak. Federal Judge Patton had ordered the full inventory that was carried out by the FBI just seven days before our stopover Wednesday.
FBI officials out of the Louisiana office had sworn to the inventory then and in a late night call Wednesday. The judge was upset. That was a matter between the people there, the FBI and the judge. The courts – by doing the inventory – had technically taken possession of the equipment and someone had stolen federal property.
What mattered to us was it was not there now, therefore doubt was thrown over the complete inventory status.
I doubted that equipment located in foreign countries and under use for contract obligations and the safety of field personnel had been compromised. But we could challenge Pelican Marsh and the Mclean site inventory.
Black Bear’s international headquarters was in McLean VA. We were going there after the hearing – if it went in our favor as we expected.
For most of an hour we put our case before the Feds who were going to meet with the judge at 0900 to tidy up loose ends with the judge before the final hearing and rulings. I gave them blown up pictures of the Pelican site equipment or the lack of.
When that was done Black and Bear and JBG would be brought into court for the reading of the charges, change of pleas, agreements and final arguments. The court would break while the three judges considered the case and then finalized the ruling.
We waited in the meeting room until 1130 with no word from the judge’s chambers. The bailiff entered at that and informed us we could go to lunch, that the court would convene at 1300.
For the three and a half hours that we had been waiting, we had gone over just about all the contracts looking for traps so we did not fall into them in the court.
Lunch was at the fancy restaurant not far from the court. We had been there so many times that we were almost regulars. It only took a couple minutes for them to find us a large table.
There were plenty of VIPs throughout the large restaurant and nearly as many news people trying to eavesdrop. We ate light – just soup and salad – and did our best to avoid the cell phone cameras.
Outside the media was waiting for the Senate, House members and administration people who lunched there.
They were busy interviewing the Secretary of Agriculture on changes coming to food assistance programs and other grants.
We were by and walking away when they realized they had been distracted and missed the opportunity to interview us. As they yelled I just waved and kept walking.
With all of us including Black and Bear with their attorneys present, the court was called to order.
Federal prosecutor Herbert Howard informed Judge Patton that a tentative agreement had been reached with all the parties. The six parties in the wrongful death suits had agreed to settle and close the suit for five million each.
Black and Bear had agreed to plead guilty to a list of crimes and infractions that led to those deaths. They pled guilty to fraud and misrepresentation of performance steps in contracts with the federal agencies, the DOD, CIA and NSA; this was a reduced set of charges.
They pled guilty to income tax evasion, failure to pay employee withholdings, both social security and FICA taxes.
”Black and Bear have agree to the termination of all contracts with the US government effective at the close of this hearing. Those contracts will be awarded to JBG today.”
”They have agreed to sign over the remaining terms of the remaining foreign contracts to JBG. JBG has agreed to fulfill the terms of those contracts with our foreign security partners.”
”JBG will assume all employees of Black Bear, pending security investigations and background checks. All assets of Black Bear will be transferred to JBG for a value to be determined by a new inventory evaluation not to exceed one hundred million dollars. JBG shall contribute an additional one hundred million to the escrow account.”
”This sum shall be held in escrow to satisfy outstanding debts to the federal and foreign governments with the remainder returned to Black and Bear at the completion of the sentence.”
”Because of complicated security arrangements, classified agreements and their cooperation in this transition to JBG and required continuing cooperation, we recommend the sentencing structure and terms as have been discussed,” Mr. Howard said.
”The court orders Black Bear Inc dissolved at the end of this hearing and all agreements implemented as stated. I order Charles Black and Milton Bear to one year of supervised employment at JBG to assist in transition of federal contracts plus five years of probation in addition to all previous agreements with this court,” Judge Patton said.
With that the court was over. Now began the diplomatic maneuvers between Black and Bear and JBG to make the transition of six thousand employees to JBG go smoothly from the one hundred or so countries they were in.
The first order after introductions – it was the first time we had actually met them – was a press release and news conference with the federal prosecutor on the steps of the courthouse. The CIA, FBI, NSA and DHS all quickly disappeared, leaving us to fend for ourselves.
We quickly worded a news release and that was sent to all JBG employees via email. Ching Lee had Maggie Hayes – the new face of JBG’s public relations department – make a news video announcing the acquisition on our website.
Maggie was smart, quick to react, photogenic, had a voice that was controlled and soothing and an 11 on the 10 scale and was dressed that way every day. She had been doing the all the public ads for the rentals, aviation and all other media for the last three months.
We walked out with the prosecutor and listened as he told the world about the various terms of the settlement with the US and foreign governments and answered questions.
We lucked out; the media hammered the prosecutor- he tired quickly of the pointless questions and ended the news conference without the media getting to ask us any questions. Maybe it was by design.
Charles Black turned to me, ”I guess we are working for you now, when do you want us to start and where?”
”1001 Summers Road on the Island 0800 tomorrow, you do understand all the restrictions placed on you and your former employees?” I said.
”Yes. Everything has to go through your offices,” he replied.
We left Washington for McLean Virginia and to tell the employees there the bad news. Even though it was less than ten miles it took thirty minutes to get to Black Bear’s building located on Baylor Circle.
It was a big five story building in one of the most expensive sections of McLean. I recognized the names of major weapons manufactures and the largest lobbyist firms in Washington. I knew right then why the lease cost was a thousand dollars a square foot per month and we were not going to be paying it.
We were met at the door by a security guard who let us in and directed us to the site manager, Bruce Marvel.
”We knew you would eventually be here but did not expect you today,” he said.
”Just as well; deliver the bad news early and get it over with. Do you have a meeting room that will hold everyone?” I asked.
“Yes,” he replied.
”Have everyone there in ten minutes,” I said as we followed him to his office. His office was more elaborate than any of ours. This was going to be a very disappointed gentleman when he saw what his new office would be.
There were plenty of long faces as clerks and secretaries made their way into the meeting room.
I introduced myself and the girls, with each of them explaining what parts of the company they were responsible for. I then started with the news I was sure they did not want to hear.
”I’m sure you all know by now that as of this afternoon JBG now owns Black Bear. You should be aware there will be many changes coming to your jobs. Some of those changes you may welcome, many of them you will not.”
”The federal court canceled the lease on this building. Everything has to be out in thirty days. All operations and functions done here will be moved to our offices on the eastern shore.”
”All employees of this office have jobs waiting there with no cut in pay, although there may be limited exceptions to that. When open enrollment begins you will be changed over to the JBG benefits plan, if not earlier. Your seniority will carry over towards the retirement plan and vacations.”
”For those of you not wishing to make the transition, a severance package will be offered. For those of you who wish to stay with JBG but do not want the trek every day to the shore, a relocation allotment will be available. Jenny will have Human Resources complete those packets and put together in a few days.”
”JBG has a financing agreement with Mid West Bank that allows JBG employees to qualify for discounted mortgage loans. That rate is currently three percent fixed for a thirty year loan. Marcy’s clerks can fill in the details and have the applications.”
“We do not offer a work at home policy except for long term illness, recovery or special circumstances.”
”You are an eight thousand employee strong international company joining a seventeen thousand employee international company. I am sure the transition will have its share of bumps.”
”We welcome you as new employees and look forward to your being part of our corporate family. Much more information on all of this will be made available in the next few days and weeks,” I said.
”This week’s paycheck is the last to be drawn on Black Bear accounts. That means there is a lot of work that has to be done combining the human resources and accounting departments of two companies and making sure everyone gets paychecks in the right accounts and on time. I’m equally sure that our timekeeping system is different – something else that you will have to learn quickly.”
“That work starts tomorrow, with B&B on the two week pay cycle. Overtime will be paid and weekend work may be necessary for both groups of HR employees. All work will be done at the island offices. Motel rooms will be available if you wish not to travel,” Jenny said.
We avoided all but the important calls on the trip home and for the evening. The voice mailbox was full of messages from news sites all wanting something.
We all needed peace, quiet and reflection on what we had done. Then there were discussions on what we needed to do to come up with office space for two hundred more people along with Andy’s new group that he was putting together. And above all, it was play time on the floor with our little ones and answering all those questions that always ended with ”Why?”
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.