San Diego County

San Diego Woman Pleads Guilty to Laundering Bribe Money for Naval Information Warfare Center Employee

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A San Diego woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to taking part in a bribery scheme involving an ex-employee of the Naval Information Warfare Center in San Diego.

Liberty Gutierrez, 61, admitted to conspiring to launder nearly $600,000, which the U.S. Attorney's Office said were proceeds of bribes an ex-Naval Information Warfare Center identified only as "Individual-1'' received from unidentified defense contractors.

Court documents state "Individual-1'' was an engineer and project lead who secured jobs for Gutierrez from the contractors, and accepted other gifts, including jobs for friends and family, tickets to sporting events and expensive dinners, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In return, "Individual-1'' used his position at the Naval Information Warfare Center to help the contractors secure lucrative Department of Defense contracts and subcontracts, prosecutors said.

The relationship between "Individual-1'' and Gutierrez was not specified in a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office or the charging document filed in San Diego federal court.

Prosecutors say Gutierrez received $593,210.09 in salary for "full-time'' jobs from these contractors despite also being employed full-time during that time period at a real estate and mortgage company in San Diego.

Gutierrez did "only minimal work'' at these jobs, prosecutors said, but falsely billed her time as though she were working full time on a government contract. The contractors passed the fraudulent labor charges on to the U.S. government for payment, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

"Individual-1'' also got his wife a job from one of the contractors, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, who said Gutierrez gave "Individual-1'' a portion of the money she received.

Gutierrez pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

"Ms. Gutierrez and her co-conspirators exploited illegal avenues to benefit themselves with taxpayer dollars meant for military programs,'' said IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge Ryan L. Korner.

"They cheated honest, hardworking contractors out of jobs with their corruption.''

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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