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Oceanside man sentenced to six months for stealing Marine gear

May 20, 2013|By Tony Perry
  • Marines patrol near the Kajaki dam in Helmand province, south of Kabul.
Marines patrol near the Kajaki dam in Helmand province, south of Kabul. (Heidi Vogt / Associated…)

SAN DIEGO -- A former civilian contractor at Camp Pendleton was sentenced Monday to six months in prison followed by six months' house arrest after pleading guilty to stealing medical equipment meant to be shipped to forward-deployed Marines, including some in Afghanistan.

Michael Tuisee, 34, of Oceanside, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo to forfeit $8250 in profits that he made by selling the equipment and to pay $179,698.50 in restitution to the Marine Corps.

Two other defendants, Henry Bonilla, 25, of Pomona, and Richard Navarro, 39, of Fallbrook, are set to be sentenced in August.  All three pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to steal government property. The amount of the theft has been set at more than $3 million.

The three were employed as supply clerks at the 1st Medical Logistics Company, which is responsible for storing and shipping medical equipment. They "had access to sophisticated, expensive medical equipment" stored in base warehouses, according to federal prosecutors.

Included in the list of stolen items, according to the indictment, were ultrasound machines, defibrillators, ventilators, a laryngoscopy, and kits for dealing with broken bones -- the kinds of equipment used to treat injured or wounded troops.

The equipment, including an autoclave for sterilizing medical instruments, was meant to be shipped to "combat commands throughout the world." Instead the three loaded the equipment in their cars "often meeting with customers during nighttime rendezvous in secluded parking lots," according to court documents.

tony.perry@latimes.com

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