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Former Marine sentenced to five years in prison for Iraq bribery scheme

Camp Lejeune (military base)

A former Marine has been sentenced to five years and three months in federal prison for accepting $150,000 in bribes from military contractors while he was deployed in Iraq.

Gilbert Mendez, 37, a former staff sergeant, is the 10th Marine who was stationed at Camp Fallouja to be convicted of corruption or fraud-related offensives, according to the U.S. attorney's office in San Diego.

Mendez pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

U.S. District Court Judge Janis Sammartino, in sentencing Mendez on Friday in San Diego, said that he had "breached his honor and his integrity." He was ordered to repay $150,000 to the Department of Defense.

Mendez, who served at the base in 2006, admitted that he took the bribes to award more than $2.6 million in contracts for three foreign-owned firms to provide goods and services at the base in Anbar province.

At one point, Mendez discussed taking a Cadillac Escalade rather than cash, according to court documents. His last duty station was Camp Lejeune, N.C.

A former Marine who assisted Mendez in the bribery scheme was sentenced  last year in Hawaii to four months behind bars. Francisco Mungia III admitted in federal court there that he helped Mendez launder the bribe money and received a 20% cut.

Mungia also agreed to repay the government $30,000.

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Twitter: @LATsandiego

tony.perry@latimes.com

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