front page 1989

On June 18, 2019, LNP celebrated its 225th anniversary.

The earliest newspaper to which today’s LNP traces its roots was the Lancaster Journal, first published on June 18, 1794, by William Hamilton and Henry Willcocks from a news office located in a tavern building at the King Street site of the current LNP building.

To celebrate 225 years of Lancaster newspapers, we present this series of 52 front pages from the history of the newspapers which would eventually become LNP. 

Ferranti foreshadowing

The top of this New Era front page from Sept. 15, 1989, bears one of the first pieces of what would prove to be a shocking and wide-reaching story – the tale of James Guerin and the International Signal & Control fraud.

The eventually-infamous ISC was formed by Guerin in 1971, operating out of his basement. Over the subsequent decades, the company grew rapidly as a defense electronics contractor. Its products included space-vehicle rocket engines, electronic artillery fuzes, cluster bombs, electronic battlefield sensors and circuit boards.

By 1987 it reported $600 million in annual revenues, employing 1,800 people in Lancaster County and 5,500 worldwide. ISC was acquired for $670 million by the venerable British defense firm Ferranti.

Guerin, too, was tremendously respected – the term “pillar of the community” was certainly apt, given his high regard as a local business leader and philanthropist.

But in June of 1989, Chem-Con, another defense contractor that Guerin co-founded, became embroiled in a $16 million fraud case. Guerin did not face any charges related to the Chem-Con fraud, but left town in August 1989, announcing his move to Naples, Fla., in a six-page letter to the New Era. Local luminaries, from college presidents to corporate leaders, hailed Guerin’s integrity and public service, and expressed regret over his departure.

Just a month after Guerin left town, this New Era story detailed growing concerns raised by Ferranti related to “significant irregularities” in ISC’s contracts – including a questionable $450 million missiles deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Over the coming months, more and more revelations of alleged crimes at ISC were disclosed by Ferranti in court actions, both here and in the United Kingdom, as the British company worked to recoup its losses.

Eventually, ISC’s lightning-fast growth from garage-based start-up to top defense contractor was shown to have been driven by bogus deals.

In 1991, Guerin was one of 20 individuals and companies indicted for their alleged roles in a $1.14 billion fake-contract scheme – as well as a scheme to smuggle $50 million worth of military products to South Africa.

An illusion of real business dealings was maintained by looping ISC’s money through a dizzying array of 42 front companies in Panama, 53 bank accounts in Switzerland and at least 10 bank accounts in the United States. ISC even rented warehouses and filled them with crates of phony inventory to show to auditors.

Guerin pleaded guilty to eight criminal counts, including money laundering, conspiracy, mail fraud, securities fraud, export violations (two counts) and tax evasion (two counts), and was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 1992.

A year later, due to the financial damage created by the fraud, Ferranti collapsed and began selling or closing all of its divisions worldwide, a process completed by 1996.