(CNS) - Three civilian contractors who worked at Camp Pendleton pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $3 million in expensive medical equipment that the military had planned to ship overseas to treat injured Marines.
Henry Bonilla, 25, of Pomona, Richard Navarro, 39, of Fallbrook and Michael Tuisee, 34, of Oceanside each face a maximum of five years in federal prison when sentenced May 24 by Magistrate Judge William McCurine Jr.
All three defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to engage in the theft of government property.
"Today's guilty pleas advance the goals of rooting out corruption among our area defense contractors, and sends a strong message that the Department of Justice will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who seek to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform," said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
The defendants worked at warehouses run by 1st Medical Logistics Company (1st MEDLOG) at Camp Pendleton, the United States Marine Corps' largest West Coast expeditionary force training facility.
By virtue of their employment as defense contractors, they had access to sophisticated, expensive medical equipment stored at 1st MEDLOG warehouses, including ultrasound machines, ventilators and defibrillators, according to court papers.
According to the plea agreement, the trio last year repeatedly stole costly medical items, loaded them into their personal vehicles and surreptitiously sold them to medical equipment resellers, often meeting with customers during nighttime rendezvous in secluded parking lots.
Duffy said the charges against the three defendants were the result of an ongoing investigation into theft at Camp Pendleton, and asked the public to contact the Naval Criminal Investigative Service at 1-800-264-6485 if they have any information relevant to that investigation.