He was in line to become chief executive at Boeing. Now Michael M Sears is in line in jail, waiting for dinner.

A former executive at Boeing, Michael M. Sears, once in line to become chief executive, was sentenced on Friday to four months in prison for his role in illegally recruiting a former top Air Force official to work for the company.

Mr. Sears, 57, stood before the court and said he was ashamed of his actions. “I know what I did was wrong,” he said.

He and his lawyers asked for probation, but Judge Gerald B. Lee of Federal District Court took note of a growing Air Force-Boeing procurement scandal and said prison had value as a deterrent to other Pentagon contractors.

“You are a person who had everything, and in a blink of an eye you jeopardized everything,” said Judge Lee, who also imposed a $250,000 fine, two years’ probation and 200 hours of community service for the felony conflict-of-interest charge.

After the sentencing, United States Attorney Paul J. McNulty said his office was continuing to investigate the case, which has already led to the departure of officials at Boeing and the Air Force. In addition, Mr. McNulty announced the formation of a working group of eight federal investigative agencies to look for possible conflict-of-interest violations involving the Pentagon and its contractors.

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