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Three plead guilty in travel-voucher probe of Navy workers in Gulfport, Miss.

GULFPORT, Miss. — Two men and a woman have pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the Department of Defense in a travel-voucher scheme by Navy workers following a probe by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service in Gulfport.

Rebecca Clemons Hickman, 24, of Gulfport, will be sentenced in federal court Feb. 20.

Richard Stephen Bellock, 43, of Alquippa, Pa., and Iralen Jewell, 33, of Ocean Springs, will be sentenced Feb. 25.

Each faces maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. They also could be ordered to make restitution.

The investigation targeted Navy workers assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Center's members of NMCB 74.

A federal grand jury indicted them in June along with Brian Scott Carlton, 26, of Gulfport. They were part of a conspiracy to make false claims for illegal payments in an overall time frame of October 2006 until August 2011, the indictment said.

Bellock also was accused of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft involving a travel voucher filed in another person's name and paid to his bank account July 14, 2010.

Bellock pleaded guilty to one count in November. He was ordered to restitution of $1,486.38, fined $500 and placed on probation for two years.

Bellock, a logistics specialist 1st class, and Carlton, a utilitiesman 2nd class, are no longer in the Navy.

The active-duty terms of Jewell, a logistics specialist 1st class, and Hickman, a builder constructionman, are due to end in 2014, a battalion center spokesman said.

At least five other Navy workers were indicted in the NCIS probe. Some of the defendants admitted receiving tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent travel vouchers and are now serving time in prison.
 

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