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Marine gets six years in prison for skimming $1.69 million from Iraqi aid

February 7, 2011 |  2:05 pm

A Marine captain was sentenced Monday to six years in federal prison for skimming $1.69 million from government contracts meant to assist the economic development of Iraq.

Eric Schmidt, 40, was a logistics officer for the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Division dealing with contracts for Iraqi firms, officials said. He was sentenced in federal court in Riverside after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

Schmidt's wife, Janet Schmidt, 39, faces three years in prison when sentenced on similar charges next month, officials said.

The government has seized properties in Big Bear and Murrieta allegedly purchased with some of the money. Also seized were two automobiles and $40,000 in cash.

In one contract, the Schmidts allegedly arranged for less exercise equipment than was paid for to be delivered to Iraq. Capt. Schmidt, who was deployed to Iraq in 2008, received bribes from Iraqi vendors, according to court documents.

"The Schmidts defrauded U.S. taxpayers, cheated the Iraqi people and betrayed the trust placed in them," said Stuart Bowen, inspector general of the special inspector general for Iraq Reconstruction.

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-- Tony Perry in San Diego

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