Three plead guilty to stealing medical gear at Camp Pendleton
Three former civilian contractors at Camp Pendleton pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $3 million worth of medical equipment meant to be shipped to Marine combat units, including those in Afghanistan.
The three were employed as supply clerks at the 1st Medical Logistics Company, which is responsible for storing and shipping medical equipment. They "had access to sophisticated, expensive medical equipment" stored in base warehouses, according to federal prosecutors.
Included in the list of stolen items, according to the indictment, were ultrasound machines, defibrillators, ventilators, a laryngoscopy, and kits for dealing with broken bones -- the kinds of equipment used to treat injured or wounded troops.
The equipment, including an autoclave for sterilizing medical instruments, was meant to be shipped to "combat commands throughout the world." Instead the three loaded the equipment in their cars "often meeting with customers during nighttime rendezvous in secluded parking lots," according to court documents.
Henry Bonilla, 25, of Pomona; Richard Navarro, 39, of Fallbrook; and Michael Tuisse, 34, of Oceanside, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to steal government property. Each faces a possible five years in prison and $250,000 fine when sentenced May 24 by U.S. District Judge Cathy Bencivengo.
-- Tony Perry in San Diego
Photo: Marines in Afghanistan. Credit: Heidi Vogt / Associated Press