LOMPOC, Calif. - Two former marines were caught allegedly stealing from taxpayers, and one has a Central Coast connection. One of the marines at the center of the case is from Lompoc.
Manuel Ramos-Padilla is named as one of the defendants in the federal court document. He and another marine are facing charges of bribery, conspiracy, and false claims. We don't know much about Ramos-Padilla's history on the Central Coast just yet, but now he's facing possible prison time.
The 10-page federal court document details the crimes committed by Marine Corps members Luis Gilbert-Menchaca and Manuel Ramos-Padilla. Both men were charged with defrauding the military out of tens of thousands of dollars.
Ramos-Padilla is originally from Lompoc. He held an administrative position at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and is accused of submitting false claims for travel and lodging reimbursements to Menchaca. The court document lists about 60 fake claims, some of them upwards of $3,000. Menchaca claimed he was renting a home in Mission Valley when he was on active duty. Investigators say the home never existed, but Ramos-Padilla would falsify the documents and get a cut of the money from Menchaca.
With 10 counts against them, both men face fines and prison time. Defense attorney Michael Clayton says in most cases, prosecutors have to look past the status of who is being charged. But the military status of Ramos-Padilla and Mencheca are an exception.
"In this situation it appears as though they used their position as a way to commit this crime," says Clayton. "So therefore they were in a position of trust and that will be looked at unfavorably toward them and, yes, it will affect them."
Central Coast News wasn't able to find any information as to where Ramos-Padilla went to school in Lompoc or if he still lives in Lompoc. Ramos-Padilla served in the Marine Corps on active duty from 2002 to 2008 and was on administrative duty in his last year. The next court appearance for both men is a March 1st.
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