Camp Pendleton construction chief who took bribes sentenced to prison

A former civilian employee of the Department of Defense was sentenced Friday to two years in federal prison for accepting more than $100,000 in bribes from contractors seeking work at Camp Pendleton.

Natividad Lara “Nate” Cervantes, 64, of San Diego pleaded guilty in January to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery of a public official.

Along with the prison sentence, San Diego federal Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on Friday also ordered Cervantes, who is free on bond, to self-surrender by Sept. 30 and to forfeit $106,964 in illegal profits.

“Nate Cervantes used his considerable influence and popularity at Camp Pendleton to foster a culture of corruption among contractors at the military base,” said U.S. Atty. Laura Duffy.

The bribes stretched from 2008 to 2011, with Cervantes receiving cash and free remodeling work on his San Diego condominium, according to court documents.


Cervantes worked at Camp Pendleton as supervisor of the construction and service contracts inspection branch.

Two contractors have also been sentenced to prison after being found guilty of bribing Cervantes. Hugo Alonso, 50, of Chula Vista was sentenced to a year in prison and Bayani Abueg Jr., 51, of San Diego was sentenced to six months.

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