A Long Island man pleaded guilty Friday to paying nearly $100,000 in bribes to a Navy Exchange employee in order to get the hook up on tax-free booze.
Edwin D. Fragoso, 45, copped to a conspiracy charge in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York for his role in the scheme, which lasted for more than a year, according to a U.S. Justice Department release.
As any active-duty sailor, veteran or family member knows, customers trying to enjoy the taste of cheaper alcohol at the NEX must flash their military ID card.
But in Fragoso’s case, between November 2015 and December 2016 he instead paid more than $95,000 in cash bribes to Eric J. Jex, a “supervisory sales associate” at the NEX, to buy booze, according to the release and his indictment paperwork.
Fragoso then turned around and resold the hooch for a profit, according to the feds.
It all went down at the NEX on Mitchel Field, a small installation in Garden City, New York.
Fragoso’s indictment suggests that the illicit purchases goosed the alcohol sales tallies for the obscure NEX, numbers that plummeted when the scheme unraveled in late 2016.
“The Mitchel Field NEX was the third-largest volume seller of NEX liquor in the world out of 226 total retail stores…in or about calendar year 2016,” the indictment states. “In 2017, the Mitchel Field NEX ranked twentieth in the world in sales of liquor.”
Fragoso is scheduled to be sentenced in December.
His public defender did not immediately return a request for comment.
All told, Jex sold Fragoso about $1.3 million worth of booze, which cost about $870,000 at the NEX. And that saved Fragoso roughly $426,000, according to the indictment.
NEX’s Jex would either collect and prepare Fragoso’s orders through the outlet’s available stock or email a special delivery request to a NEXCOM facility in Virginia Beach: “Fragoso paid for his liquor purchases in person, in cash at the NEX, and provided cash bribes to Jex at or around the NEX,” the indictment states.
NEX cameras recorded several of the purchases, plus footage of the pair loading the ill-gotten goods into Fragoso’s van, according to the indictment.
In mid-December 2016, “Jex sold Fragoso 100 cases of Hennessy for $40,190 in cash,” the indictment states. “Fragoso provided Jex with a cash bribe in the amount of $1,850 for this purchase.”
Jex had worked at the NEX for nearly a decade before the scheme ended in 2016.
He pleaded guilty in August 2017 to accepting more than $250,000 in boozy bribes from Fragoso and two other individuals, Adam Agaev and David Manasherov, according to the statement.
Agaev and Manasherov pleaded guilty to conspiracy in January.