SAN DIEGO — A former Marine watch commander was sentenced to two years in federal prison today for his role in a fraud and bribery scheme at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.
As part of the scheme, Menchaca — while serving as watch commander for the military police at Miramar — paid thousands of dollars in bribes to another Marine in order to obtain tens of thousands of dollars in fraudulent lodging reimbursements.
According to evidence at trial, Menchaca joined the Marine Corps in 1998, was discharged after four years and entered the Marine Corps Reserve.
From time to time thereafter, Menchaca received orders placing him on active duty.
In connection with his mobilization orders, Menchaca became eligible to receive certain travel payments, including lodging reimbursement and a per diem allowance for the duration of his active duty service.
In May 2007, after being placed on active duty at Miramar, Menchaca entered into a conspiracy with another Miramar Marine, Manuel Ramos-Padilla.
In connection with the scheme, Menchaca and Ramos agreed to submit falsely completed forms — called “travel vouchers” — that claimed reimbursement for thousands of dollars in lodging expenses that Menchaca had not incurred or paid.
Menchaca and Ramos repeated the scheme month after month, for a period of 10 months.
In total, Menchaca submitted approximately $38,000 in false lodging claims.
In exchange for his role processing the false travel vouchers, Menchaca paid Ramos up to $1,000 per month in cash.