Marine expected to plead guilty to taking bribes
TAMPA - A Marine who had a love affair with a military contractor has agreed to plead guilty to accepting bribes. Timothy Lee Benton, 47, was an active duty master gunnery sergeant assigned to Baghdad in 2007 and 2008. He served as deputy chief of staff for his unit, which purchased supplies from “Contractor A,” according to Benton’s plea agreement. The contractor, who lives and has a business in Riverview, was involved in a romantic relationship with Benton, according to the court pleading. Benton lives in Springfield, Va. Benton “used his official position to benefit” the contractor by escorting her flatbed trucks loaded with furniture and 20 to 30 gravel trucks through Camp Liberty in Iraq, his plea agreement states. The contractor gave Benton $50 and $100 for each truck — for a total of between $2,500 and $3,000 — for Benton’s help with the trucks.Benton also helped his girlfriend receive cash purchase orders through his unit at Victory Base Camp, Iraq, including two 47-inch LCD televisions for $6,400 and 100 digital cables for $5,500. After Benton returned from his deployment, the contractor paid for a Bahamas vacation for the two of them in July 2009. Benton flew from Washington for the vacation, according to the plea agreement. That October, the contractor gave Benton a $5,000 no-interest loan, which he paid back. And then in early 2010, Benton used his official position at the Pentagon to draft two official memoranda sponsoring and endorsing the contractor to conduct business on Victory Base Camp, according to his plea agreement. Under the terms of the plea deal, Benton will plead guilty to receiving a gratuity by a public official for an official act. The charge carries a maximum of two years in federal prison, although he likely would receive less.