A former Boeing manager has accepted a plea agreement following an investigation into the theft of documents from rival Lockheed Martin Corp...

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LOS ANGELES — A former Boeing manager has accepted a plea agreement following an investigation into the theft of documents from rival Lockheed Martin Corp. during a battle for $1.88 billion in government contracts.

Kenneth Branch, 67, pleaded guilty Thursday to obstructing justice by discarding his laptop computer during the government’s investigation. In exchange, government lawyers dropped a charge of conspiring to steal trade secrets from Lockheed Martin to help Boeing win the majority of Air Force satellite contracts in the fall of 1998.

A federal judge sentenced Branch to six months of home detention and ordered him to pay a $6,000 fine.

Branch and co-defendant William Erskine were charged in June 2003. Both were fired from Boeing after an internal investigation.

A conspiracy charge against Erskine remained pending. Charges against Larry Satchell, a third former Boeing official, were dismissed on procedural grounds.

In 1998, after a competitive process, the Air Force awarded Boeing and Lockheed Martin contracts worth nearly $2 billion over the course of 28 missions from 2002 through 2008.

In 2003, the Air Force banned Boeing from future satellite launches as punishment for the theft of extensive information from Lockheed Martin during competition for the contract.

The Air Force probe found that Branch, Erskine and Satchell broke the law and barred them from participating in any future rocket contracts.