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Florida couple sentenced in Utah for military bribery, fraud scheme

Published January 20, 2014 9:42 pm

Courts • Another defendant in the case — involving contracts at Hill Air Force Base — will be sentenced Jan. 29.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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 Florida man and his wife have been sentenced for their roles in a bribery and fraud scheme involving federal procurement contracts at Hill Air Force Base.

Sylvester Zugrav, 70, had pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Utah to conspiracy to commit bribery and procurement fraud.

He was sentenced earlier this month to 15 months in a federal prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release. Judge Dale Kimball also ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine.

Maria Zugrav, 67, who had pleaded guilty to concealing a felony, was sentenced to 24 months probation.

The Zugravs were indicted in 2011.

Also named in the original complaint was Jose Mendez, 51, of Farr West, Utah, then a procurement program manager for the U.S. Air Force Foreign Materials Acquisition Support Office at the base.

Mendez has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, bribery and procurement fraud and forfeited more than $180,000 he received as part of the bribery scheme. Mendez is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 29.

The Zugravs owned Atlas International Trading Co., which contracted to provide foreign military materials to the U.S. government. In his plea, Sylvester Zugrav admitted that from 2008 through August 2011, he gave Mendez bribe payments and offered him more than $1 million in additional payments in return for assuring Atlas was awarded future contracts. In exchange, Mendez ensured the company received contracts and information that helped it bid successfully.

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.

shunt@sltrib.com