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by MATTHEW GAULT
It was the middle of September 2013 and the U.S. Justice Department had laid a trap.
Its target was the Malaysian millionaire defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis. But no one called him by his real name. At six feet tall and more than 300 pounds, he earned the nickname “Fat Leonard.” His buddies in the Navy called him something else — the Tony Soprano of Singapore.
At the time, Leonard’s business — Glenn Defense Marine Asia — held contracts with the U.S. Navy worth more than $200 million. Anytime a ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet needed servicing, there was a good chance it stopped at a port serviced by GDMA.
When the ships docked in Fat Leonard’s ports, he squeezed every buck he could out of the Navy and the American taxpayer. Beginning in 2004, Fat Leonard overcharged for basic services — and federal investigators are still totaling up the amount he suckered out of the Navy.
By 2013, the Justice Department was ready to take him down. Years of investigations had produced a solid case, and the department asked Navy officials to call Francis to California under the guise of a face-to-face business meeting.
On Sept. 16, 2013, the feds arrested former Naval Criminal Investigative Service agent John Beliveau in Washington, D.C. It also nabbed Navy Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz at his home at Colorado Springs. Both men had helped Francis defraud the Navy for years.
Francis landed in San Diego later that day and agents apprehended him.
The scandal, investigation and ensuing court drama involved bribery, fraud, hookers, luxurious travel, high-end electronics, admirals behaving badly and a tough prosecutor who faced down a Mexican drug cartel and won.
This is the story of Fat Leonard and how he took control of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet and used it to inflate his already impressive fortune. It is a story of hubris and corruption.
It is a story about how America’s military does business today.
Born in 1965, Leonard Glenn Francis came into the world in Penang, Malaysia, the child of a loving mother and a sleazy father. The family was already wealthy when Francis was born, and his father had numerous extra-marital affairs.
Malaysian newspaper The Star Online, chronicled Francis’ early troubles in a series of stories about the port tycoon.
Sick of her husband’s affairs, Francis’ mother left the family and took Francis’ siblings with her. But she left Leonard behind, wanting him to make sure her husband didn’t continue the affairs.
“[He is] a very obedient son to his mother and their bond was extremely strong,” Datuk C.V. Prabhakaran — a former family lawyer — told The Star Online.
Francis had a different relationship with his father. “They had differences and some sort of disagreement but it was not clear to me what it was all about,” the lawyer said.
No one knows if those differences were the result of his father’s womanizing. We do know that Francis went on to a series of private schools, but always found himself mixing with the wrong crowd.
As an adult in his 20s, Francis opened a bar. It didn’t do well, and he fell into debt. Then Penang cops arrested him for possessing two revolvers, ammunition and a bulletproof vest.
Possession of a firearm is a serious offense in Malaysia, and for a while, it looked like Francis might spend his youth in prison. In court, his mother took the stand in his defense and poured out her sorrows.
She blamed herself for Leonard’s misdeeds, saying that she had left him behind to keep her husband from bringing strange women into their house. She said the stress drove Leonard to mix with thugs, open a failing business and to carry weapons.
Her testimony swayed the court — to an extent. The Penang High Court sentenced Leonard, then 21, to three years in jail and six strokes of a cane.
Once he was out of prison, Francis took over the family business — Glenn Marine Enterprise — from his father. The company became Glenn Defense Marine Asia and Francis led it to prosperity. The company operates ports throughout the Pacific and provides husbanding services to ships at dock.
Husbanding is essential and expensive work. When a ship docks, it needs various services such as minor repairs, cleaning, refueling, provisions and any number of other services. Companies such as GDMA provide those services for ships and their crews.
GDMA had been a reputable company that did business with the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet for 25 years. But Fat Leonard used his time at the head of the company to line his pockets at the expense of the American taxpayer.
He led an opulent lifestyle. One of his Singapore homes is a 28,000-square-foot bungalow at the end of a fancy street surrounded by similar compounds. Other houses in the area rent for $30,000 a month. The house is three stories high and Francis hired three maids to service it.
Francis threw Christmas parties so extravagant that it shut down traffic on his street. According to estimates from local newspapers, the cost of the decorations alone was at least $100,000 for a single party in 2010.
Francis had constructed a small theme park on the grounds of his home, complete with dozens of brightly lit Christmas trees and a working mini-train ride.
“There was fake snow everywhere and electronic trees all around the neighborhood that lit up in blue, red and brown,” an area housekeeper told AsiaOne. “I could feel the Christmas spirit in the air. It was fantastic.”
He poured money into GDMA — but he did it to grease the wheels of corruption and pay off a host of lackeys, cronies and contacts he cultivated, including high-ranking Navy officials.
Prostitutes, Lady Gaga concert tickets, iPads — Fat Leonard showered his cronies with gifts so his company would keep husbanding Navy ships at inflated costs.
The region 2 contract
The Navy’s Seventh Fleet is the most powerful naval force on the planet, consisting of more than 60 ships, nearly 300 aircraft and more than 40,000 sailors and Marines. It patrols the Pacific Ocean from Southeast Asia to the Pacific Islands, monitors Russia and cruises into Australian waters. The fleet even makes forays into the Indian Ocean.
All combined, it’s an absolutely huge swath of the ocean. That blue expanse is where Francis operated most of his ports.
GDMA offered ship-husbanding services at ports in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. His business was massive enough to be a one-stop shop for the Seventh Fleet.
Husbanding is a lucrative business, one Francis and GDMA had been in with the U.S. Navy for 25 years. He and his business were already worth millions when — in 2004 — he began corrupting naval officers and overcharging for basic services.
In 2009, GDMA signed a lucrative deal with the Navy, becoming Seventh Fleet’s sole supplier of husbanding services for the entire Pacific. They called the agreement “the region 2 contract,” a reference to the Pacific Fleet’s area of operation.
Court documents detail how Fat Leonard and his company’s government contract manager — Francis’ cousin Alex Wisidagama — used that agreement to bilk the Navy out of millions. The Justice Department complaint against Wisdidagama in particular reads like a how to manual for bilking the Navy.
The contract’s terms are specific. The Navy would pay a fixed price for husbanding services, reimburse GDMA at cost for fees such as tariffs, and work with GDMA to seek bids at the lowest price for items such as fuel and water.
The agreement considered anything else an “incidental.” That is, for anything not specifically listed in the contract, GDMA was to seek outside bids from several companies, report those bids to the Navy and move forward with the lowest bid price.
But Fat Leonard — through GDMA — frequently created fake companies, submitted fake claims and overcharged the Navy every chance he could.
Between September 2011 and June 2012, GDMA submitted 117 fake bids for incidentals to the Navy’s pricing database — for one port alone. But those 117 incidents comprised only 35 unique bids. GDMA would often just resubmit the same fraudulent pricing quotes over and over again.
“Every time a U.S. Navy ship arrived in Phuket and requested any of the above incidental services, GDMA uploaded into [Navy pricing databases] copies of the same fraudulent quotes, often without even changing the dates,” court documents stated.
Fat Leonard was brazen. He and his cronies never even attempted to throw a bone in the form of a business offer to a competitor simply to avoid trouble. He just made sure that GDMA was the lowest bid every single time the Navy needed something for one of its ships.
And remember, those 177 quotes were just for one port for a short period of time. GDMA has been doing the same at dozens of ports for years.
Even worse, because GDMA had the market cornered on the Seventh Fleet’s husbanding services, the company radically inflated the prices. The provisions of the contract required GDMA to disclose its markup or profit on each item it sold to the ships.
But it never did, though internal company emails acquired by the Justice Department revealed “GDMA had a pricing formula for its quotes that included a significant markup over its costs.”
Thanks to a lack of competition and overcharging, GDMA bilked the Seventh Fleet out of more than $2 million dollars from ports in Thailand alone. But those ports were far from the only ones involved in the scandal.
The company overcharged the Navy for services such as food, even though the contract stipulated GDMA provide those provisions at cost. But Fat Leonard didn’t sell anything without making a profit, and his company inflated everything he was contractually obligated to sell at cost.
Ships need a lot of fuel … and the Seventh Fleet has a lot of ships. According its contract, GDMA acted as the Navy’s liaison to the area’s fuel providers.
But in theory, going through GDMA was only a last resort. The Defense Logistics Agency handles the Pentagon’s supply chain, and it has a department that deals exclusively in fuel procurement. This entails building relationships with companies around the globe.
Where no such relationship exists, the DLA expected Francis’ company to contact the government of whatever port the Navy’s ships were in — and ask if it could buy fuel directly for the vessels. If that fell through for some reason, then GDMA would search out alternative suppliers, provide it to the Navy at cost and recoup a fixed fee.
That never happened.
A typical example of this kind of corruption is what the GDMA did to the Navy in Thailand.
American ships require fuel with no biodiesel content. The DLA didn’t have any relationships with fuel vendors in Thailand, so the Navy asked GDMA to see if Bangkok could provide the fuel.
“[Fuel] is unavailable due to Thailand’s regulation that diesel in the country must have a biodiesel content mix which does not meet [Navy] requirements,” GDMA explained in forms provided to the Navy. “GDMA will provide [the Navy with fuel] from its own stocks which are imported and contain no biodisel.”
It was a lie. Bangkok had no regulations requiring a biodiesel mix. So GDMA bought the fuel from local suppliers, then sold it back to the Navy … and not at cost, as its contract required. GDMA overcharged for every gallon of fuel it sold to American ships.
The company scammed the Navy to the tune of $3 million from just five port visits to Thailand in 2011. GDMA overcharged at multiple ports in the area for several years.
It didn’t stop there. GDMA even overcharged the Seventh Fleet on tariffs.
Tariffs are taxes a ship pays to local governments when it docks at a foreign port. Under the contract, GDMA would handle all the Seventh Fleet’s tariffs, then bill the Navy at cost.
In Thailand, a state-owned port authority maintains the ports, collects tariffs and maintains a list of its fees and services on its Website. The Thai port authority doesn’t collect any of those fees, but contracts the collection out to third parties.
Any time ships from the Seventh Fleet docked in Thailand, GDMA would take care of the tariffs, then use a fake company to bill the Navy at exorbitant prices.
GDMA billed the Navy about $300,000 when a ship docked at the port of Laem Chabang in Thailand. Prosecutors in the case went back through the Thai port authority’s Website, cross referenced the tariffs charged at the time and got the real total.
The Navy only owed $35,000 for the Seventh Fleet ship. The Justice Department’s current estimate of cash overcharged from tariffs is $4 million.
GDMA is a family business and Francis had help at every step of the way from his cousin, Alex Wisidagama.
Wisidagama worked for GDMA as the manager of its government contracts. As such, he was in charge of company’s work with the Seventh Fleet in the Pacific and was one of the architects behind the massive fraud.
Francis and Wisidagama crafted fake letterheads for fake companies and shared them via email, according to court documents. They discussed asking corrupted U.S. officials for intelligence about ship movements. The team also conspired to overcharge the Navy for basic services.
Fat Leonard trusted his cousin with a lot of his secrets — including which Navy officials were on his payroll.
Federal agents arrested Wisidagama on Sept. 16, 2013. The case against him alleged his actions alone cost American taxpayers $20 million.
He pleaded guilty to all the charges against him on March 18, 2014. He’s facing a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice what he gained from defrauding the Navy.
The 30-page complaint against him reads like a lesson in how to get caught defrauding the government. But it’s obvious from the interactions between the cousins that they never thought they’d get caught.
And why would they? They had a Navy commander and an NCIS agent working on their behalf.
The misfit sailors
More than 70 pages of court documents released by Justice — including Francis’ recent plea deal and the complaint against him — detail his extensive relationships with Navy officials.
Michael Misiewicz was born in Cambodia. A U.S. embassy worker adopted him when he was six years old, and he moved to Illinois in 1973. He just missed the deadly killing fields of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge.
Misiewicz made his adopted family proud. He attended the Naval Academy, graduated and advanced in rank. He eventually became the commander of the destroyer USS Mustin.
According to more than 70 pages of unsealed court documents, Francis reached out to Misiewicz sometime in 2010 and began to cultivate a relationship. He needed insiders in the Navy to help him make money.
Fat Leonard cultivated relationships with Navy personnel and paid them in cash, electronics and hookers to advance his schemes. In exchange, the sailors fed Fat Leonard classified information about the movements of ships and even encouraged ships to sail closer to GDMA-operated ports.
Misiewicz called Fat Leonard “Big Bro” in emails between the two. Misiewicz was “Little Bro.” In 2011, Fat Leonard hooked Little Bro up with tickets to a Lady Gaga concert and prostitutes to accompany him.
“Take care gents, thank you for the best leave (w/o kids that is) ever!” Misiewicz wrote to Fat Leonard in an email. He pleaded “not guilty” to all charges and is currently awaiting trial.
In 2009, Jose Luis Sanchez was the deputy logistics officer for the Seventh Fleet’s then-commander Vice Adm. John Bird. Francis reached out to Sanchez and they began to cultivate a relationship.
Fat Leonard wanted from Sanchez all the same things he’d wanted from Misiewicz — access to classified intel regarding ship movements and assurances his ports would service as many Navy ships as possible.
Sanchez took to corruption quickly, and he began calling Francis “Lion King” in emails. He loved everything Fat Leonard gave him in exchange for betraying Navy secrets.
In 2009, Fat Leonard arranged an extravagant trip to Kuala Lumpur for Sanchez and his buddies — whom he affectionately called his “Wolf Pack.” Sanchez asked Francis for pictures of the prostitutes he and his buddies would see when they arrived.
“J, got it we will hook up after the FLAG dinner” Fat Leonard replied. “Will arrange a nest for you guys and some birds.”
Days later, Sanchez sent a message to Francis over Facebook — “Yummy … daddy like.”
The relationship between the two continued through several of Sanchez’s promotions and transfers. He helped Francis swing business into his ports and helped dupe Navy authorities with elaborate fuel schemes.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. He’s currently awaiting sentencing.
Chief Petty Officer Dan Layug was another one of Leonard’s servants within the Navy — one he paid far less than his two commanders.
Because of his position, Layug could track the ship schedules for the Pacific Fleet. Every month, he transcribed the information and sent it to Leonard and his company. He called them “golf schedules.”
For his trouble, GDMA gave him an allowance of $1,000 a month. That’s what the company called it in internal emails.
“At the end of each month, we will be providing an allowance to Mr. Dan Layug. Total of U.S. $1,000,” GDMA’s V.P. of global operations wrote to a company accountant.
“You may pay him the equivalent in yen. He will come by the office at the end of each month to see you.”
It seems Layug was a cheap date. But take heart, it wasn’t the only thing Fat Leonard and his cronies gave him. He got a lot of bad-ass electronics, too.
“What are the chances of getting the new Ipad 3 [sic]? Please let me know,” Layug wrote in an email. He later drew up a bucket list of electronics he’d love to have, including iPad minis, two different kinds of cellular phones and a fancy camera.
He received — at least — the camera. We know because he wrote a thank you email to his benefactors. “The camera is awesome bro! Thanks a lot! Been a while since I had a new gadget!”
Prosecutors said that Layug took his friends out to swanky hotels across Asia and billed the rooms to GDMA. Layug attempted to hide his extra income by opening up a bank account in his daughter’s name and using it to hide his $1,000-a-month payoff.
It didn’t work out. He pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. Layug now faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Of all Francis’ cronies, NCIS supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau was his most important. Beliveau was Fat Leonard’s man inside the criminal investigative wing of the Navy. Thanks to the agent’s efforts, the playboy was able to stay one step ahead of investigators for years.
But that’s all over now. The Justice Department started investigating Beliveau and GDMA in 2010 and uncovered a long relationship between the two.
For about five years, Beliveau fed Fat Leonard information about the Navy’s concerns regarding GDMA. He searched through the databases of the NCIS, looking for any files that might contain Leonard’s name or that of his business.
When he uncovered information, Beliveau turned it over to Leonard.
But it didn’t stop there. Beliveau didn’t just turn over the info — he helped Fat Leonard figure out how to beat the rap. As an NCIS agent, Beliveau knew what to say to investigators to throw them off.
It’s likely that Beliveau’s kept investigators off Francis’ trail and helped fund his desire for outrageous Christmas decorations. There’s no telling how quickly the Navy would have busted Fat Leonard if Beliveau hadn’t intervened.
“Instead of doing his job, John Beliveau was leaking confidential details of investigations to the target himself,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy stated in a press release. “This is an audacious violation of law for a decorated federal agent who valued personal pleasure over loyalty to his colleagues, the U.S. Navy and ultimately his own country.”
“His admissions are a troubling reminder that corruption may exist even among those entrusted with protecting our citizens and upholding our laws.”
In exchange, Fat Leonard lavished Beliveau with cash, luxury travel and prostitutes. But the agent could never get enough. He always wanted more money and more women — a point he made clear to his criminal patron.
“You give whores more money than you give me,” Beliveau wrote, according to court documents. “I can be your best friend or worst enemy.”
“You are a sore Bitch and I have not forgotten you Bro,” Francis responded. “[H]ow do I send you a gift?”
Beliveau pleaded guilty to all the charges against him. He’s facing a maximum of 20 years in prison and fines of up to $500,000.
These men aren’t the only sailors indicted in the scandal — they’re just the most prominent.
Retired Lt. Cmdr. Edmond Aruffo pleaded guilty to conspiring with Fat Leonard. Capt. Daniel Dusek also pleaded guilty to bribery and awaits sentencing. The list goes on.
In 2013, the Navy revoked the security clearances of naval intelligence chief Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless. Both are under investigation for their connection to Franics and GDMA. The investigation around the two is ongoing.
In February 2015, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus censured three rear admirals — Mike Miller, Terry Kraft and David Pimpo. All three had some sort of involvement with Francis while they served on the carrier USS Ronald Reagan in 2006, although the Justice Department hasn’t made the details public.
The rot may extend all the way to the top. Even Adm. Samuel Locklear, former commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, was under investigation for connections to Francis and GDMA. However, it appears that the Justice Department won’t charge Locklear.
The investigation is wreaking havoc on the Navy’s upper echelons. Many of these admirals had put in for retirement around the same time the investigation started, but the sailing branch has delayed those retirements while prosecutors conduct their investigations.
For some, the process is taking too long.
“Because the investigation is taking so long, because the decision on the people — that may or may not be implicated — has taken so long is frustrating,” Mabus told the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Defense in February.
Managing the command structure at the top of the Navy has become a nightmare since the Justice Department began the investigation. No one knows who will stay, who will retire and who will go to jail.
It’s a big and complicated case, possibly the biggest corruption scandal to hit the U.S. military since Operation Ill Wind in the 1990s when contractors bribed their way into lucrative Air Force contracts.
But a big case requires a tough prosecutor — and Washington needed a warrior. It needed someone untouchable, incorruptible … yet not afraid to break the rules to make a case. It needed someone as crazy as Fat Leonard and the Navy leadership he bought off.
The woman from the sky
Laura Duffy was already impressive before she became U.S. attorney for the southwest federal district in 2010. She’d been a trial attorney for the feds since 1993 and she spent the bulk of that time fighting Mexican drug cartels.
Duffy learned to love law at an early age while interning with a public defender. “He was a — kind of a gruff, Columbo-like disheveled guy,” Duffy told the radio station KPBS.
“But he was so committed to every client and every case that he represented. I just had a great deal of respect for him and for his ethics, and to the passion that he had for the law and his clients, that I too decided that I wanted to pursue criminal law.”
Duffy is best known for her success in taking down members of the violent Arellano-Felix drug cartel. The case was personal for her, as the cartel had murdered her partner in the investigation — Mexican narcotics officer Jose Patino Moreno.
Patino was incorruptible. He wouldn’t take bribes and wouldn’t play ball with the cartels — a stance that lost him his job once thanks to a boss in league with the drug dealers. He persisted in his dogged pursuit of justice and his honesty got him killed.
Moreno and his team worked with Duffy and others to bring down the Arellano-Felix cartel. In 2000, Moreno and two of his colleagues left San Diego to travel home to Mexico after meeting with Duffy.
They never made it. Cartel assassins kidnapped the trio when they crossed the border. The thugs tortured the men for days before murdering them.
The drug dealers crushed Moreno’s head with an industrial press and dumped his body in a ravine. This kind of epic, bastard-level violence is common to the Mexican drug cartels that routinely use such terrifying tactics to scare off authorities, civilians and rival cartels.
But losing her partner in Mexico didn’t shake Duffy’s resolve.
“She didn’t flinch … She didn’t allow that to make her rethink whether or not she should continue with the case. She persisted,” Gonzalo Curiel — a former colleague of Duffy’s — told the Los Angeles Times in 2010.
She pursued the Arellano-Felix cartel and got a rare opportunity to take down one of its leaders.
Drug kingpin Francisco Javier Arellano Felix loved deep-sea fishing. He often took his boat out to sea to pursue rare and wonderful fish. During one such expedition in 2006, he sailed into international waters. The feds had a good case against him, they just needed to bring him in.
Duffy and her colleagues saw his trip into the deep ocean as a coup. They swept in, stopped his boat and arrested him.
But Duffy wanted to get close. She wanted to explain the severity of Arellano’s situation and the charges against him. So she asked the Coast Guard to lower her by bucket from a helicopter onto his ship.
“The reason I decided to do that was because, as a female especially in dealing with Hispanic males, I want to always get my butt in the door and let them know I am in charge of the case and it will be who they are dealing with,” Duffy explained in a television interview.
The stunned Arellano referred to Duffy as la mujer del cielo — the woman from the sky — throughout his trial.
The trial of Arellano was a slam dunk for Duffy. She made headlines and the Senate quickly confirmed her as a U.S. attorney in 2010.
But the next time Duffy was in the news, it would be for far different reasons. It seems that Duffy isn’t above cheating to win a case, bending the rules and setting strange legal precedents.
Early reports linked Duffy to the now notorious Operation Fast and Furious. In 2009, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Explosives’ Phoenix Field Division attempted to track down high-level drug traffickers by allowing guns bought legally in the U.S. to “walk” across the border. Thousands of firearms ended up south of the border and into the hands of criminal organizations.
Duffy unsealed court documents surrounding the case, and avoided scrutiny around that felled other federal agents and prosecutors.
But Duffy didn’t get away so clean from United States v. Maloney. Border Patrol agents stopped John Maloney at a border crossing in 2012. He had more than 300 pounds of marijuana in his tractor trailer. At trial, Maloney’s defense was that he had been hired to haul cleaning supplies and had no idea he was carrying drugs.
Duffy was the attorney for the prosecution during the trial and she won … but she cheated. During the closing arguments of the trial, when neither Maloney nor his attorney could respond, Duffy suggested to the jury that Maloney lied because he didn’t bring any luggage with him.
This was the first time anyone had mentioned luggage during the trial. Neither side’s lawyers had entered luggage — or the lack of luggage — into evidence. Duffy concocted a fanciful tale at the end of the trial to push the jury towards a conviction. It worked and they convicted Maloney.
But everyone — including Maloney’s defense — knew that Duffy had cheated. Through the appeals process, various judges and other court members urged her to confess that she had wronged Maloney during her closing statements and she eventually admitted she had.
Maloney’s attorneys had appealed the decision and moved through various court proceedings to free him or declare a mistrial. Overturning the conviction was inevitable, but most prosecutors would wait for a judge to tell them they’d cheated. Instead, Duffy filed a brief and admitted it.
Why did she cheat in a pot bust case? Probably because she hates drugs. Years of fighting with cartels left a bad taste in her mouth for both drugs and corrupt officials. She’s tenacious, just the kind of person the Justice Department needed to go after Francis and his elaborate network of corrupt Navy officials.
“It is astounding that Leonard Francis was able to purchase the integrity of Navy officials by offering them meaningless material possessions and the satisfaction of selfish indulgences,” she said in a recent press release about the case.
After his arrest, Francis wanted to fight the charges against him — and he wanted bail. A federal judge originally granted Francis a $1.1 million bond, but Duffy wasn’t having it.
“Defendant is a Malaysian national with no meaningful ties to the United States, other than the fact that he has built a business empire based on defrauding the United States,” she wrote in a motion to revoke his bail.
“If given the opportunity, defendant can — and will — flee this country. He literally has no reason to remain in the United States for trial,” she explained.
“He has tremendous financial resources, estimated in the tens of millions of dollars; owns a fleet of vessels; owns a company with offices in a dozen countries; has family and friends across the globe; and has every means and motivation to flee to Mexico, and from there, shop for a country with no extradition treaty with the United States.”
In January, Francis changed his mind and pleaded guilty to all charges. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and agreed to forfeit $35 million in personal assets.
Francis’ sentencing hearing begins Oct. 9, 2015.
The Fat Leonard scandal is far from over. Duffy and her team are still investigating admirals and other Navy officials to either clear them of involvement or bring them down for corruption.
“We will continue our efforts to root out those involved in this long-running corruption scheme, both inside and outside the Navy,” Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said after the Justice Department announced the plea. “The interests of justice and national security demand nothing less.”
Francis’ plea bargain means he’s talking with the feds and he is naming names. It will be years before we know the full extent of the corruption.
But one thing is certain — the Malaysian playboy who took control of the world’s most powerful naval force will soon just be another federal inmate.