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7 charged with theft in USS Midway Museum case

Aug. 15, 2013 at 9:24 PM   |   Comments

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- Seven people have been charged with felony grand theft for allegedly taking part in a long-running theft scheme at the USS Midway Museum in San Diego.

The defendants -- Erskine Eugene Arnold III, 35; Freddy Gomez, 26; Rolando Guzman Jaca, 61; Arturo Leal Perianez, 41; Alexander Pingul Magtoto, 46; Edward Questa Ragucos, 32; and Robert Michael Valencia, 32 -- were charged Tuesday for stealing more than $950 worth of recyclable metals from the ship between Nov. 1, 2011, and Nov. 30, 2012, U-T San Diego reported.

The charges stem from an internal investigation museum officials conducted in January.

The museum says the seven men, all of whom worked at the museum, kept some of the proceeds of materials that were recycled from the ship.

"Items that are big time in the recycling business (steel, copper, aluminum) were taken for recycling, but only a portion of the money was returned to the Midway," the museum said in its newsletter distributed to employees and volunteers. "This involves several hundreds of thousands of dollars over several years."

Police referred the museum's findings to the district attorney's office.

The defendants, who have not commented on the case, face up to three years in prison if convicted.

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