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Figure in TRW Overcharging Case Gets Computer Firm Post

September 09, 1987|CHRIS KRAUL

Robert L. North, who was dismissed last December as a TRW group vice president after the government accused the aerospace company of overcharging on defense contracts, has been named president of Hecht-Nielsen Neurocomputer Corp., a start-up computer company based in San Diego.

TRW pleaded guilty last Thursday in U.S. District Court in Denver to one felony count of overcharging the Pentagon and promised to repay $17 million to the government in connection with the Colorado incident and unrelated work performed at TRW plants in San Diego, Sunnyvale and Cleveland.

North, who last headed TRW's Los Angeles-based Electronic Systems Group in his 21 years with the company, has said he knew nothing of the overcharging, describing himself after his firing as a "sacrificial lamb."

North has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

North, who has acted as a consultant to HNC over the last several months and who actually took over executive duties at the company in July, refused to comment Tuesday on the status of his lawsuit or on TRW's pleading last week.

HNC, which was founded last year, is developing a line of computers whose technology is based on neural networks similar to those in the human brain. HNC shipped its first products this summer and expects to post "a few million" dollars in revenue this fiscal year, North said. "It's an exciting new field that could revolutionize the computer industry," North said Tuesday.

The computer company's founders, Robert Hecht-Nielsen and Todd Gutschow, are both former employees at TRW's military electronics and avionics division in San Diego, where they worked on neurocomputers together.

HNC also named Gerald Farmer, former president of Science Applications Inc., as executive vice president.

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