SAN DIEGO (CN) - Two Marine sergeants are charged with conspiring to defraud taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.
Marine Sgts. Luis Gilbert Menchaca and Manuel Ramos Padilla face a 10-count indictment accusing them of bribery, conspiracy and filing false claims.
The alleged frauds were carried out at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar from 2002 to 2001, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Ramos, a reservist, processed lodging claims for fellow reservists, such as Menchaca. The men conspired to defraud the Defense Department by submitting false monthly claims for lodging reimbursement for Menchaca, and creating fake rent bills to substantiate it, prosecutors said. The address they provided was nonexistent.
"According to the indictment, Ramos knowingly signed and approved dozens of false lodging claims for Menchaca and another reservist, a staff sergeant, identified only by initials in the indictment, who has been charged elsewhere," the U.S. Attorney's Office said. "Each of the two reservists received tens of thousands of dollars in lodging payments as a result of the scheme. In exchange for facilitating the fraud, Ramos in turn demanded and received thousands of dollars of bribe payments from the reservists. Many of these bribes were paid by personal checks made payable to Ramos; other bribes were paid in cash."
Ramos, 32, of Lompoc, and Menchaca, 32, of Romoland, face up to 80 years in prison and $2 million in fines if convicted of all charges. They have pleaded not guilty.