Federal prosecutors have charged a Defense Department contracting official in California, who purportedly referred to himself as “the Godfather” at Camp Pendelton, with bribery following an undercover sting.
Charging documents filed in U.S. District Court in San Diego late last week accuse Natividad Lara Cervantes with steering a $4 million flooring contract in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars.
Wearing a hidden buttonhole audio and video recorder, an undercover informant met with Cervantes last month and agreed to pay him $40,000 for help securing the upcoming Camp Pendelton flooring contract, according to federal prosecutors.
At one point during the conversation, prosecutors said, Cervantes picked up the phone and called a contracting official to ask about the contract, charging papers say.
Told the award wasn’t “set in concrete”, Cervantes replied, “Okay, but you’ll do your magic, right?” according to the documents.
Cervantes is the supervisor for construction and service contracts inspection at Camp Pendelton, according to the complaint. An attorney for Cervantes was not listed on the federal court docket. The Los Angeles Times reported that he was arrested and booked into the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego on Thursday.
The charges against Cervantes come just weeks after three defense contractors who worked at Camp Pendelton pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3 million in medical equipment that was supposed to go overseas to treat injured Marines.