By Aerial Mike /

More Guilty Pleas in Navy Department Liquor Bribery Case  

New Yorkers had paid employee $250,000 for unauthorized discount purchases.

A multi-agency probe into bribe-taking by a Navy Department employee managing liquor purchases produced another guilty plea, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

Edwin Fragoso, 45, of Freeport, New York, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown of the Eastern District of New York, capping more than two years of investigation and prosecution of illicit discounted purchases at the Navy Exchange (NEX) at Mitchel Field Garden City, N.Y.

Fragoso was one of three who paid as much as $250,000 in bribes in 2016 to Navy sales associate Eric Jex to doctor paperwork and deliver large quantities of booze to be resold at a profit.

Jex, who pleaded guilty separately in August 2017, was “responsible for the security of cash, fixed assets, and merchandise inventory at the NEX,” according to his indictment. “Jex also prepared, authorized, and processed retail transactions, which included submitting orders for liquor to be delivered from the NEX's Northeast Distribution Center in Suffolk, Virginia,” prosecutors said. “Liquor orders were submitted and filled using a computer at the NEX that transmitted the orders electronically to NEXCOM in Virginia Beach, Virginia.”

No date has been set for Jex's sentencing, a Justice Department spokesman said. 

Procedure required NEX employees to physically check a customer's Armed Forces Identification Card or Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card before selling any alcoholic beverages in order to confirm a customer's eligibility to shop at the NEX.

The latest plea follows guilty pleas in January by accomplices Adam Agaev, 44 and David Manasherov, 38, both of Brooklyn.

It was announced by Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge Leo Lamont of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Northeast Field Office. Also contributing to the probe was the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, along with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Criminal Investigations Division.