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OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Federal prosecutors charged three contracted workers at Camp Pendleton, Calif., for allegedly conspiring and stealing more than $3 million worth of medical equipment destined for units deployed overseas, which they resold for profit.
The men, identified as Henry Bonilla, Richard Navarro and Michael Tuisee, worked as warehouse clerks with 1st Medical Logistics Company at the base, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of California announced Thursday.
They were indicted Jan. 25 by a federal grand jury and arraigned Thursday in U.S. District Court in San Diego on conspiracy and five counts of theft of government property, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy announced in a news release. Each faces up to 10 years in prison on each theft count and would have to pay restitution if convicted.
"Throughout 2012, the defendants repeatedly stole expensive medical equipment from [the unit], transported it using their personal vehicles to other locations in Southern California and sold the stolen items to medical equipment resellers," Duffy said in the release. The men sold the equipment in nighttime meetings held in commercial parking lots, she said.
According to the nine-page indictment issued Jan. 25, the conspiracy began in January 2012 and continued until October, a period during which the men would steal pieces of medical equipment from the warehouse and, using their cellphones, would then pitch the items for resale "to a small group of resellers." Prosecutors estimate the value of the stolen equipment at more than $3 million.
The indictment details several sales of equipment the men are accused of stealing from the warehouse. In one instance, according to the court document, Navarro on May 31 offered to sell two ventilators and 30 Stryker field kits, which he sold the following day for $4,000.
On June 14, Tuisee sent several text messages offering 11 defibrilators, a Massimo Rad-57 — a handheld device that measures oxygen in the blood, 24 Hoffman IIs — devices that stabilize injured limbs, and with one Harvey autoclave — a sterilizer. He sold several items for $2,390 that same day.
Also on June 14, Bonilla sent texts pitching a set of stolen equipment, including 25 defibrilators, 16 headlights, 10 laryngoscopes and two Harvey MC8 sterilizers, for $8,600 but sold it later that day for $7,800, the indictment states.
A magistrate judge ordered them to appear in federal court for a hearing March 8, and more indictments could be looming as the investigation continues.