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Pendleton 'Godfather' sentenced in bribe case

Saturday, July 26th, 2014
Issue 30, Volume 18.

SAN DIEGO - A former Defense Department supervisor was sentenced today to two years in federal prison for accepting more than $100,000 in bribes from contractors who sought to win or retain millions of dollars worth of government construction and service contracts at Camp Pendleton.

While handing down the punishment to 64-year-old Natividad Lara "Nate" Cervantes, U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Battaglia also ordered the defendant, who is free on bond, to surrender by Sept. 30 and forfeit $106,964.

Cervantes -- who, according to prosecutors, called himself the "godfather" of the military base north of Oceanside -- pleaded guilty in January to bribery and conspiracy charges.

He admitted using his position at Camp Pendleton to solicit bribes from construction companies seeking to do business on the base, including those run by co-defendants Hugo Hernandez Alonso (Hugo Alonso Inc.) and Bayani Yabut Abueg Jr. (MBR Associates).

From about 2008 until March 2013, Cervantes, a San Diego resident, served at Camp Pendleton as supervisor of the Construction and Service Contracts Inspection Branch, Facilities Support Contract Division. During that time, he used his position supervising construction and service contracts to solicit Alonso and Abueg for bribes from their companies, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Diego.

In return for helping to steer contracts to his co-defendants, Cervantes received cash payments from them and extensive free construction work on his personal condominium, prosecutors Advertisement
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Cervantes admitted, for example, that he agreed to accept a $25,000 bribe to assist Alonso and HAI in obtaining a $3.5 million government contract to install flooring at Camp Pendleton.

In arranging for the illicit payment, Cervantes, through a third party, requested that Alonso "have the 25 package" -- code for the $25,000 bribe -- available on Sept. 5, 2008. Alonso did so, according to court documents.

Cervantes admitted that HAI paid him at least $119,000 between 2008 and 2011, and that Abueg's company gave him another bribe in 2011 related to the awarding of a $3 million contract at Camp Pendleton.

Further, Cervantes admitted that on March 26, 2013, he met with a cooperating witness who agreed to pay him $40,000 in exchange for help in obtaining a $4 million contract at the Marine Corps station.

Two days later, the witness met with Cervantes at a business on Miramar Road and handed him an envelope containing $10,000 cash, purportedly an initial installment payment on the bribe. At that point, FBI agents arrested Cervantes.

Alonso and Abueg were sentenced last month -- Alonso to a year in federal prison, three years of supervised release and a requirement to pay a fine of almost $127,000; Abueg to six months in federal custody, three years of supervised release and a requirement to reimburse $105,025 to the IRS and pay a $366,140 fine.



Comment Profile ImageKyle
Comment #1 | Saturday, Jul 26, 2014 at 11:07 am
Two years is not enough. Our federal government has a $17.5T debt. Then we have guys like this run up federal government expenses for personal gain. He should have been handed 20 years hard labor in a federal prison. In many other countries, his fate would have been much more severe. When you catch a fish, eat it. Seems we never do for none-violent crimes.
Comment Profile Imagewizard of fallbrook
Comment #2 | Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 6:46 am
more great news from the base.....
Comment Profile ImagePreston
Comment #3 | Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 8:34 am
Our entire Judicial system needs an overhaul.
The inequity in sentencing for various crimes is simply corruption at its finest.
Comment Profile ImageZZZ
Comment #4 | Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 1:08 pm
Unbelievable. These three just got off with such a light sentence. I get the prisons are packed and they are not a physical threat to anyone... so fine them millions of dollars. That's what they received in doing their crime was money. You should see Hugo's beautiful office building and Bayani's place... I've worked with them both and a slap on the hand won't stop greed.
Comment Profile ImageJohn G
Comment #5 | Sunday, Jul 27, 2014 at 2:30 pm
I shoulda had their lawyers!!!!
Comment Profile Imageflbkboy
Comment #6 | Monday, Jul 28, 2014 at 8:28 am
I can't believe some of you people have not blamed O'bama for this like you do everything else. Should have made examples out of this conviction, I go for the 20 years....
Comment Profile ImageSeriously??
Comment #7 | Monday, Jul 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm
Is flbkboy kidding? It is the left that are continually blaming Bush. Talk about the pot calling the kettle tarnished!! This incident actually did take place on Obama's watch.... so.... is flbkboy the new Lee?
Comment Profile Image@Seriously
Comment #8 | Monday, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:59 pm
If you want to play the presidential blame game, the story that I read says that this scheme began in 2008 (President Bush) and was discovered and prosecuted in 2013 (President Obama).

But this has nothing to do with the presidents. This was just a routine, classic caper conducted by some greedy people. And they got caught. Good job, authorities.
Comment Profile ImageSeriously??
Comment #9 | Tuesday, Jul 29, 2014 at 10:17 am
I don't believe that either president is to blame, I was merely pointing out the hippocracy of the left.
Comment Profile Imageradokie
Comment #10 | Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 at 7:46 pm
learn to spell hypocrisy
Comment Profile ImageSeriously??
Comment #11 | Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:19 pm
@radokie: So?? That's the only comment you have? I know how to spell, just typed fast on the old Iphone, that is what came out.... get over it.
Comment Profile ImageM. Corleone
Comment #12 | Saturday, Aug 2, 2014 at 12:14 pm
Well, boy's, it's all said and done. The conractors flipped, as usual, and got off light .What did you expect? Cervantes, though, had no one to finger. His light sentence is probably because the powers that be above him screwed-up and let these 3 multimillion dollar contracts slide through without their review. They told the "Godfather" to clam-up to save face. Be a nice book, but it's all old news.

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.


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