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Two Gulfport Seabees charged with defrauding DOD

GULFPORT -- Two Navy Seabees are accused of conspiring to steal more than $139,000 from the U.S. Department of Defense by making false travel claims for themselves and approving false claims and payments for themselves and others.

Fred James Wheat Porterfield and Juan Saldivar, petty officers 3rd class, face trial April 29 on federal charges alleging they defrauded the DoD through their jobs in logistics support at the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 74 in Gulfport.

A federal indictment alleges they and others conspired to defraud the DoD from October 2006 through August 2011 by making hundreds of false entries in the Defense Travel System.

They were indicted Feb. 5 on charges of conspiracy to defraud the DoD, five counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment says they created false travel authorization claims, vouchers and orders, and manipulated records to create false documents so they and others could obtain money they weren't entitled to receive.

Porterfield allegedly received at least 334 payments totalling $55,171.59, and Saldivar received at least 70 payments of $17,185.65.

And through hundreds more false computer entries, Porterfield approved at least 208 payments to others for $39,194.43 and Saldivar approved at least 28 payments for $28,119.64, the indictment said.

No other names are listed in the indictment, but four people are listed by initials.

The wire fraud counts allegedly involve travel payments of $1,800 for C.J. on March 9, 2010; $1,450 for H.A. on Aug. 26, 2010; and $2,500 each for J.L. and B.L. on Sept. 8-9, 2010.

They allegedly used someone else's identity to commit wire fraud in the two payments in September 2010.

Their hometowns, ages and activity duty dates were not immediately available.

Robert Mims, CBC spokesman, said the Navy has placed a legal hold on both men pending resolution of the criminal case.

They have been taken off their normal duties and transferred from their battalion to other work at the Battalion Center, which could include manning the quarterdeck or standing watch, Mims said.

"We are cooperating with the Justice Department to investigate this matter," Mims said.

Saldivar's attorney, assistant federal prosecutor John Weber, said he is unaware of details of the case.

"We haven't received discovery yet, so anything I say at this point would only be speculation," Weber said.

Porterfield's attorney, Ian Brendel, said he can't comment on pending litigation.

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