A Vista man was sentenced Monday to five years in prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for purchasing military equipment stolen from Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base.
Kenneth Preston Westbrook, 50, owner of Vista Surplus, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster. The FBI investigation of the stolen military equipment ring was called Operation Rip-Stop.
Westbrook asked Brewster to consider his 23 years in the U.S. Marines and his previous clean record before passing sentence. Defense attorney Frank M. Murphy III told Brewster that "Westbrook did not go out with the purpose of breaking the law; this was no great conspiracy, but more a matter of opportunity."
However, Assistant U.S. Atty. Pamela J. Naughton told the judge Westbook encouraged the Marines to steal and even asked some to get him live ammunition.
Westbrook was convicted June 6 of more than 20 counts of purchasing the stolen gear, which was worth $12,500 in 24 separate buys of gear with undercover agents.
The Naval Intelligence Service and the Internal Revenue Service also took part in the investigation, which resulted in the conviction of 96 dealers. Additionally, 42 Marines have been convicted in courts-martial. Sentences ranged from six years in prison to probation.