The main gate of Camp Pendleton. This is the main road for traffic into the base. This gate has been open and manned by Marines 24 hours a day since 1942. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

A June 13 sentencing date is scheduled for a scrap metal recycler convicted of theft and conspiracy to sell and dispose of more than $500,000 worth of brass shell casings removed from the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base over a two-year period.

John Vescuso, 40, was found guilty Monday in San Diego federal court.

According to evidence presented at trial, Vescuso conspired with a former civilian employee at Camp Pendleton, Cecil Garr, to remove the brass shell casings and other types of scrap metal from the School of Infantry’s hazardous materials lot and to sell the materials for $555,640 from April 2010 to June 2012.

Vescuso paid Garr cash to remove expended brass shell casings from the hazardous materials lot using his personal vehicles. Subsequently, the defendant made arrangements directly with an Orange County scrap metal company to place roll-off containers in the lot to collect the brass shell casings and other scrap metal, prosecutors said.

Once those containers were full, Vescuso contacted the scrap metal company to retrieve the containers from Camp Pendleton. The defendant then collected payment directly from the scrap metal company and shared those proceeds with Garr, resulting in a substantial loss to the Marine Corps, officials said.

“America’s warfighters deserve the very best to perform their jobs and the taxpayers expect nothing less,” said Chris Hendrickson, Special Agent in Charge of the Western Field Office of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.

“Theft of USMC resources takes away precious dollars necessary for the dedicated American warfighter,” Hendrickson said. “This guilty verdict should serve as a warning for those intent on defrauding the U.S. military and American public that the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and our law enforcement partners will pursue these crimes relentlessly.”

Before Vescuso’s trial, Garr pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal the more than $500,000 worth of brass shell casings from Camp Pendleton.

–City News Service

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