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A former Marine lance corporal pleaded no contest July 28 to one felony count of lewd and lascivious acts against a child. Dario Ambriz, 23, was stationed at Camp Pendleton in 2004 when he met a 12-year-old Santa Maria girl in a Metallica forum at www.teenchat.com. Prosecutors contend that, over a three-month period, Ambriz's e-mails and instant messages became sexual and that he drove to Santa Maria on December 10 to have sex with the girl. The minor then told her friend, who told the victim's mother. Santa Maria police were called, and they drove to Camp Pendleton to serve a search warrant on December 15. Ambriz, who served in Iraq, was arrested and booked at the Santa Barbara County jail. He'll be sentenced September 1.

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