New York Man Pleads Guilty in Navy Liquor Store Scheme

Edwin Fragoso was the third person to plead guilty in a scam to buy discounted liquor and then resell it at a profit. (Army Photo/C. Todd Lopez)
Edwin Fragoso was the third person to plead guilty in a scam to buy discounted liquor and then resell it at a profit. (Army Photo/C. Todd Lopez)

Just how good are the prices on booze at Navy Exchanges? Low enough for a civilian to pay off an exchange employee so he could buy liquor at a discount and resell it for a hefty profit.

Edwin Fragoso of Freeport, New York, pleaded guilty Friday to paying more than $95,000 in bribes to an employee of the Navy Exchange at Mitchel Field in Garden City. According to a news release from the Department of Justice, Fragoso, who was not eligible to make purchases at the exchange, bought large quantities of liquor at cut-rate prices and then resold it.

He wasn't acting alone, however. Brooklyn residents Adam Agaev and David Manasherov pleaded guilty in the scam in January. In all, the three men paid exchange sales associate Eric Jex more than $250,000 to buy liquor over the course of a year.

According to Agaev and Manasherov's indictment, the two conspired to bribe Jex to sell them liquor valued at $5.18 million for $3.21 million, a discount of nearly $2 million.

Jex pleaded guilty in 2017. It’s expected Agaev and Manasherov will be sentenced in September.

The indictment noted that the unassuming Mitchel Field NEX was the third-largest volume seller of liquor out of 226 stores operated by the Navy Exchange Service Command in 2016. In 2017, it ranked 20th in the world in liquor sales.

All three men were indicted in April 2018.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service; the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau; and the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Criminal Investigations Division, all investigated the case, according to the Justice Department.

-- Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @patriciakime.

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