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Marine gets 5 years for taking bribes in Iraq

A Marine who accepted more than $150,000 in bribes from contractors in Iraq was sentenced Friday to more than five years in federal prison.

Gilbert Mendez, 37, of Camp Lejeune, N.C., pleaded guilty last December to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after a multi-agency investigation found he had taken bribes from three unidentified foreign contractors in return for millions of dollars’ worth of military contracts, according to the Justice Department.

Mendez was given just shy of $90,000 from one contractor, $20,000 from another and $50,000 from a third between January 2006 and January 2007 while the staff sergeant was deployed to Camp Fallujah, Iraq, as a contracting officer, a Justice Department statement said. A friend and fellow Marine, Francisco Mungia, then helped him collect the funds and plotted with Mendez to smuggle them into the states for a percentage.

Mungia has been sentenced in federal court in Hawaii to four months in prison, according to media reports.

In addition to his sentence, Mendez was also ordered to pay the Defense Department $150,000 in restitution, according to media reports. He faced a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

He is the 10th Marine from Camp Fallujah convicted of fraud during Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the Courthouse News Service.

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