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Utah man gets prison for role in military bribery scheme

Published January 29, 2014 7:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal judge sentenced a former procurement manager for Hill Air Force Base to two years in prison for his role in a bribery and fraud scheme aimed at helping a Florida-based company land military contracts.

Jose Mendez, 52, of Farr West, pleaded guilty to three counts involving conspiracy, bribery and procurement fraud in October 2011, the same month he was indicted by a federal grand jury. U.S. District Court Judge Dale A. Kimball sentenced Mendez on Wednesday.

Mendez was the procurement program manager for the U.S. Air Force Foreign Materials Acquisition Support Office at the base. In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Mendez admitted accepting money and other goods from Sylvester and Maria Zugrav, owners of the Atlas International Trading Co., from 2008 to August 2011 in exchange for access to information that helped the Zugrav land contracts.

Some payments were sent to Mendez by Federal Express, while others were made in person or through wire transfers to an account Mendez arranged to have set up at a bank in Mexico. The scheme also used covert email accounts and code names — Mendez was identified as "Chuco" and Sylvester Zugrav as "Jugo" — to conceal their activities.

Sylvester Zugrav, 70, also pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Jan. 8 to 15 months in federal prison and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. Maria Zugrav, 67, received a sentence of 24 months probation.

brooke@sltrib.com