Assistant U. S. Attorney Michelle L. Wasserman (619) 546-8431
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – August 24, 2020
SAN DIEGO – Herbert Gutierrez, former warehouse manager at the U.S. Navy Military Sealift Command Warehouse in San Diego and 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, was sentenced in federal court today to 24 months in custody for stealing more than $2.5 million worth of goods from the Navy warehouse where he worked. Gutierrez was also ordered to forfeit $57,656.69 and pay $2,536,293.63 in restitution to the United States Navy.
Sentencing documents reflect that Gutierrez began stealing from the warehouse for his own personal gain a few months after he started working there. For approximately nine months, between July 2018 and April 2019, Gutierrez advertised items from the warehouse for sale online, including through such websites as eBay, and then allowed private individuals into the MSC warehouse yard during work hours and after hours to take the government property, load it onto trucks, and haul it away.
In February 2019, Gutierrez permitted a utility truck and a tractor-trailer to enter the MSC warehouse after hours and drive away with more than $1 million in stolen copper nickel tubing.
That same month, Gutierrez sold numerous Caterpillar parts from the warehouse to a company he found online. Once again, Gutierrez allowed a private freight company to enter the MSC warehouse yard and load the items, which filled four pallets. He created fraudulent government paperwork to conceal his criminal activity.
In April 2019, Gutierrez again allowed two individuals to enter the MSC warehouse in broad daylight, and he loaded up their vehicle with stolen government property, accepting thousands of dollars in cash in exchange. The two men were – unbeknownst to Gutierrez – undercover agents. At the time, Gutierrez told the undercover agents that “I’m looking at volume. I’m not looking at making a million-dollar profit, I’m looking at volume. I’m trying to keep this stuff going, that’s how I get paid.”
Gutierrez was paid for the stolen goods in cash and via PayPal. Gutierrez admitted in his plea agreement that the total aggregate value of the items that he stole from the United States and resold for personal profit was $2,536,293.63.
“This defendant was running a massive and brazen scheme that fleeced the Navy of millions of dollars,” said U.S. Attorney Robert Brewer. “This conduct was outrageous and illegal, and he is now appropriately going to prison for it. The excellent work of prosecutor Michelle Wasserman and NCIS agents brought justice for the Navy and taxpayers.”
“NCIS exposed Mr. Guiterrez’s scheme to steal and sell government property,” said NCIS Southwest Field Office Special Agent in Charge Garrett Waugh. “This result highlights how critically important it is for our military personnel and family members to remain vigilant and always report suspected fraud. It also represents an outstanding effort by Special Agents assigned to the NCIS Southwest Field Office to bring a criminal to justice for threatening Navy readiness and wasting taxpayer money.”
DEFENDANT Case Number 19CR4552-W
Herbert Gutierrez Age: 54 San Diego, CA
SUMMARY OF CHARGES
Theft of Government Property – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 641
Maximum penalty: Ten years in prison and $250,000 fine
Naval Criminal Investigative Service