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CAMBRIDGE LABORATORY EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTOR VICE PRESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY TO WITHHOLDING INFORMATION FROM GSA

 CAMBRIDGE LABORATORY EQUIPMENT DISTRIBUTOR VICE PRESIDENT
 PLEADS GUILTY TO WITHHOLDING INFORMATION FROM GSA
 BOSTON, May 28 /PRNewswire/ -- A vice president and managing director of a Cambridge distributor of laboratory equipment pleaded guilty today in federal court to a charge that he withheld information from the General Services Administration during the negotiation and performance of a three million dollar government contract.
 United States Attorney A. John Pappalardo announced today that Warren Howell entered a plea of guilty to a one count Information charging him with with mail fraud concerning the negotiation and performance of a procurement contract with the General Services Administration (GSA), an agency of the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341. Howell is the former Vice President of Bio-Rad Labratories, Inc. (Bio-Rad), and the Managing Directtor of Bio-Rad's Digilab Division. Bio-Rad is a publicly held corporation, with its headquarters located in Hercules, Calif., and trades on the American Stock Exchange. Its Digilab Division (Digilab) maintains offices at 237 Putnam Street, in Cambridge, Mass. Digilab is principally engaged in the manufacture and sale of laboratory equipment, including the sale of such equipment to various agencies of the United States under contracts and prices negotiated by the GSA. From 1978 through December 1991, Howell served as the vice president of Bio-Rad, and from 1982 until December 1991, he also served as the managing director of Digilab. He is 56 years of age, and resides at 49 Great Neck Rd., Sherbourn, Mass.
 The Information, filed in federal court on March 12, 1992, charges that, during the period October 1986 through April 1990, Howell and Bio-Rad intentionally failed to disclose to the GSA information about discounts that Digilab was then giving to its commercial customers. More specifically, the Information charges that, during the negotiation and performance of a procurement contract, Howell and Bio-Rad withheld information from the GSA concerning the fact that the prices for laboratory equipment, which Digilab was then offering to the GSA, were not Digilab's best price for that equipment, and that Digilab was then offering significantly better prices for such equipment to commercial customers. In fact, as described in the Factual Basis filed with the Infrmation, Digilab was then offering other customers significantly higher discounts than it was offering the GSA, and Howell knew of and approved these higher discounts. The maximum penalties for the offense charged in the Information are five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
 Also announced in open court today was the filing of a plea agreement between the government and Howell. The terms of this plea agreement include the following:
 -- the defendant will plead guilty to the one count
 Information;
 -- the defendant will cooperate fully cooperate fully with
 the government's ongoing investigation of Bio-Rad;
 -- the government agrees not to charge the defendant with any
 other crimes arising out of Bio-Rad's dealings with GSA; and
 -- at the time of sentencing, the government will make known
 to the Court the nature and extent of the defendant's
 cooperation.
 Sentencing for Howell is scheduled to take place on Aug. 6, 1992, at 10 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro.
 This Information is the result of an investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the General Services Administration. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grosso of Pappalardo's Economic Crimes Division.
 -0- 5/28/92
 /CONTACT: Press Officer, U.S. Attorney's Officer, 617-223-9445/ CO: Bio-Rad ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


PB -- NE011 -- 4909 05/28/92 16:15 EDT
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Date:May 28, 1992
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