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SD shipyard contractor sentenced for stealing $600K in equipment from Navy ships

USS Pickney
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jul 10, 2024

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A man who stole nearly $600,000 worth of computer equipment from four U.S. Navy ships while working as a civilian contract employee at General Dynamics-NASSCO in San Diego was sentenced Wednesday to 18 months in federal prison.

Ernesto Saldivar, 30, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a theft of government property count for taking hard drives, laptops and other items from ships undergoing maintenance, then selling some of the items online.

The thefts took place on the USS Pinckney, USS Curtis Wilbur, USS Tripoli and USS Spruance, according to court documents.

A prosecution sentencing memorandum states that, in March of last year, hundreds of hard drives, plus other equipment, were discovered missing from the ships.

Investigators found the hard drives had been removed "in an identical fashion," by unscrewing them from their trays, then re-inserting the empty trays into the computer cabinets, prosecutors said.

Saldivar's fingerprints were found inside the hard drive trays, the memorandum states.

At the time, Saldivar was working as a welder at General Dynamics- NASSCO, a role in which he "had no legitimate reason to be handling hard drives or other shipboard electronic equipment," prosecutors wrote.

A search of eBay listings revealed a local seller advertising equipment matching that which had been stolen from the ships.

The home address and phone number of that eBay account belonged to Saldivar, according to prosecutors, who wrote that a search of his home yielded 120 of the missing hard drives, plus other equipment.

Prosecutors wrote that, among the stolen items that were sold, one of the laptops "was purchased by a suspected foreign agent."

In all, more than 300 hard drives, two laptops, two programmer units, four DC-DC converters and 18 power converters were taken, totaling $596,997.53 in value, prosecutors said.

Along with custody, Saldivar will have to pay nearly that entire amount in restitution.

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