The Secretary of the Navy
issued letters of censure to three rear admirals – all of whom are retiring – for involvement in the “Fat Leonard” scandal that involved officers steering ships to particular port facilities in return for gifts and sexual favors. A review concluded that the three admirals improperly accepted gifts between 2006 and 2007 and that their improper familiarity with Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis “cultivated an unacceptable ethical climate within the respective commands.”
Rear Admirals Michael Miller, then a commander serving on the USS Ronald Reagan; Terry Kraft, CO of the same carrier; and David Pimpo, the Reagan’s supply officer, have all asked to retire. The Navy’s issuance of reprimands does not preclude criminal charges. Secretary Mabus promised to set up an ethical disciplinary process to follow up with Navy officers who are not charged criminally, or whose ethical lapses aren’t addressed directly in criminal proceedings. Navy officials previously indicated that the scandal will grow wider as leads are followed up.
Francis, proprietor of a Malaysian naval resupply and refit firm named Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. pleaded guilty to various corruption charges, having been successfully lured to the U.S. in a San Diego hotel sting, and after finally losing the services of a bribed senior official in the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who had previously been tipping him off. Francis’s firm aggressively sought Navy business, bribed officials for secret ship movement information and for favorable contracting decisions and overcharged for services. Allegations have been made as well that Francis was effective in changing the schedules and destinations for certain Navy deployments.
Francis has been cooperating in recent weeks, according to the Washington Post.
Francis has agreed to pay back $35 million in money made through the scheme, and awaits sentencing of up to 25 years in prison.
Navy captain Daniel Dusek pleaded guilty to giving Francis secret information in exchange for money, prostitution services and travel services around the Pacific. Dusek was relieved of his relatively new command of the Bonhomme Richard in 2013 when he was first suspected of involvement. Dusek is one of five navy officials to plead guilty, and the most senior so far.
He has admitted to, in at least one instance, to change the movements of a carrier and strike group to ensure that they stopped at Francis’s Port Klang facility in Malaysia.
A couple months before Dusek’s arrest, a former commander of the USS Mustin, Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, was arrested for bribery, about the same time that Naval Criminal Investigative Service supervisory agent John Bertrand Beliveau II was arrested.
Misiewicz allegedly attempted reschedule port visits to include Francis’s firms facilities, adopting routes that included Sepangar, Malaysia, and Laem Chebang, Thailand.
Already, several mid-level officers have been found guilty, including one who pleaded guilty only last week.
In documents presented to the court using Francis’s own words, the scheme was designed to “drive the big decks into our fat revenue” facilities.