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Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Marine Camp ‘Godfather’ Charged With Bribery

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A Pentagon employee who supervised construction and service contracts at Marine Base Camp Pendleton was charged Friday with extorting bribes from businesses there.

Natividad "Nate" Lara Cervantes, 64, of San Diego, called himself the "Godfather at Camp Pendleton," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.

"At least as early as September 2008, Cervantes allegedly used his position supervising construction and service contracts to extort bribes from businesses seeking to do business at Camp Pendleton. In return for these contracts, Cervantes received cash payments and remodeling work on a condominium," according to the U.S. attorney's statement.

A cooperating witness met with Cervantes on March 26 and agreed to pay him a $40,000 bribe for a $4 million contract on the Marine base, prosecutors said.

Two days later, FBI agents arrested Cervantes after the cooperating witness paid him the first $10,000 installment, the U.S. attorney said.

Cervantes was arraigned Friday on a federal bribery charge. He faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

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