CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (KGTV) - Several Marines are under investigation for allegedly stealing explosives and ammunition from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, according to a source with close military ties.
That source said that at least five reconnaissance Marines allegedly stole thousands of rounds of military-grade ammo and explosives. Then, one Marine allegedly tried to sell the ammo online but got caught in a sting operation that was set up by federal agents.
28-year-old Sergeant Gunnar Naughton is the first Marine to go to court in connection to the case. He is currently being held in military custody. His involvement is still unknown.
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ABC 10News was at his hearing last Friday inside a courthouse on-base where he was charged with six counts including larceny and obstruction of justice.
According to the base, at one point he worked for the military as a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Defense Specialist. His attorney declined to comment on the record.
Attorney Bethany Payton-O'Brien said that she's representing a second Marine who’s charged in connection to the case, Staff Sergeant Alexander Czub. She told ABC 10News that he was charged with obstruction of justice, although the base has not confirmed that.
“Our client is not involved in a conspiracy,” she said on Thursday morning and added, “We adamantly deny that he committed any obstruction of justice.”
Payton-O'Brien told ABC 10News that her client owns a home on a piece of land in Fallbrook where he allowed another Marine to rent space for his trailer. She said that the location was raided by agents. “[Since] my client is the homeowner or the landowner, the investigators just made the conclusion that he must be involved because he owns the land,” she stated.
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She also told ABC 10News that there have been repeated inconsistencies and misinformation spread by agents who she said questioned Czub about a separate case that he had no knowledge of. “The investigators, whether [they’re] NCIS or other agencies that were involved, were trying to connect this case to Twentynine Palms.” ABC 10News asked, “To the missing C4?” She replied, “Correct.”
In February, ABC 10News broke the story about 10 pounds of C4 explosives that reportedly went missing from a separate Southern California Marines base in Twentynine Palms. Currently, there is no indication that the two cases are related.
A third attorney who ABC 10News spoke to on Thursday said that she’s representing a third Marine in the Pendleton case who has not been charged.
That attorney declined an interview but sent a statement reading in part, “[He] is a junior enlisted Marine who is proud to serve and protect his fellow Americans. It has been the honor of his life to pass the rigorous Force RECON selection course and join the elite members of the historical 1st Reconnaissance Battalion. He looks forward to resolving the allegations against him in the most favorable way possible. [He] swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution, and he places his confidence in the integrity of our military and civilian justice systems.”
Officials at Camp Pendleton declined to provide a statement or an interview.
NCIS is overseeing the investigation. A spokesperson said on Thursday that they could not provide any comment because the investigation is open and ongoing.