US Navy Commander pleads guilty in ‘Fat Leonard’ bribery case

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A U.S. Navy Commander pleaded guilty to bribery charges, admitting that he accepted cash, gifts, travel expenses, entertainment and the services of prostitutes from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified U.S. Navy information.

Francis, nicknamed “Fat Leonard” because of his physical appearance was the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a company that provided port services to U.S. Navy vessels in Asia.

Francis has pleaded guilty in San Diego federal court on several counts, while his company is believed to have taken $20 million out of the Navy’s pocket.

The information high-ranking Navy officials were giving included ship schedules that contained information related to the U.S. Navy’s ballistic missile defense operations in the Pacific.

Michael Misiewicz was one of the officials and the eighth person to plead guilty in the San Diego federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 29 when the commander will be facing up to 20 years in prison.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell said: “In exchange for luxury vacations, gifts and other expenses, Commander Misiewicz betrayed his oath, the men and women of the U.S. Navy, and American taxpayers by directing lucrative government contracts to his financial patron.”

According to admissions in his plea agreement, from January 2011 until September 2013, Misiewicz provided classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive U.S. Navy information to the defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, CEO and owner of Singapore-based GDMA.

Misiewicz admitted that when he was stationed in Japan, on the USS Mustin and in Colorado Springs, Colorado, he used his position and influence within the U.S. Navy to advance the interests of GDMA, including by providing Francis with classified ship schedules and other proprietary U.S. Navy information. In return, Misiewicz admitted that Francis gave him cash, paid for luxury travel on at least eight occasions for Misiewicz and his family, provided his wife with a designer handbag and provided Misiewicz with the services of prostitutes on multiple occasions.

To date, nine individuals have been charged in connection with this scheme; of those, eight have pleaded guilty, including Misiewicz, Captain Daniel Dusek, Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug. Former Department of Defense (DoD) civilian employee Paul Simpkins awaits trial.

On January 21, 2016, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine; the others await sentencing.

Three U.S. Navy flag officers who served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in 2006 and 2007 got off without charges but were forced to retire because of “improperly accepting gifts from a prohibited source, improperly endorsing a commercial business, and soliciting gifts and services from a prohibited source.”

Rear Adm. Michael Miller, Rear Adm. Terry Kraft and Rear Adm. David Pimpo were issued Secretarial Letters of Censure by Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy in February 2015.

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