Sarasota couple sentenced in Air Force bribery case

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Posted: Friday, January 10, 2014 12:33 pm | Updated: 5:05 pm, Fri Jan 10, 2014.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Florida man was sentenced to 15 months in prison and his wife to 24 months' probation for their roles in a bribery and fraud scheme involving Air Force contracts.

Sylvester Zugrav, 70, of Sarasota, Fla., earlier pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery and procurement fraud, and his wife, Maria Zugrav, 67, also of Sarasota, admitted to helping conceal the conspiracy.

The Zugravs were charged in an October 2011 indictment along with Jose Mendez, 51, of Farr West, Utah.

Mendez, a procurement program manager for the Foreign Materials Acquisition Support Office at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, was charged with conspiracy, bribery and procurement fraud. He pleaded guilty to all charges and agreed to give up more than $180,000 he received in the scheme. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 29.

The Zugravs owned Atlas International Trading Corp., a vendor licensed to contract for the sale of foreign materials. In return for bribes, Mendez gave Atlas favorable treatment in the procurement process, including disclosing government budget and competitor bid information that helped the company win contracts, according to the indictment.

Payments were made via FedEx to Mendez’s home, in person and by electronic wire transfers to a bank account in Mexico in the name of Mendez’s cousin.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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