‘Fat Leonard’ navy bribery case has DoD contracting officer plead guilty

A former U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) supervisory contracting officer pleaded guilty June 23 to charges that he accepted bribes from foreign defense contractor GDMA in what became known as one of the biggest U.S. Navy bribery and fraud scandals.

Paul Simpkins, 61, of Haymarket, Virginia, was a senior DoD contracting official who supervised contracting officers responsible for awarding and administering U.S. Navy contracts.

According to admissions made in connection with his plea, from approximately May 2006 until September 2012, Leonard Glenn Francis, owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), provided cash, travel expenses and the services of prostitutes in return for Simpkins’s efforts to steer contracts to GDMA and intervene on GDMA’s behalf in contracting disputes with the U.S. Navy.

Simpkins admitted that during the years-long scheme, Francis provided him with hundreds of thousands of dollars through wire transfers to a bank account in Japan controlled by Simpkins’s former wife.

After Francis transferred the funds to Simpkins’s wife’s account, Simpkins caused payments to be remitted to a U.S. bank account held in his own name.

According to his plea, Simpkins admitted that, in return, he used his influence within the U.S. Navy to benefit GDMA.

Among other things, Simpkins admitted that he extended GDMA’s contract after a subordinate recommended the contract not be extended due to high costs; instructed U.S. Navy officials in Hong Kong to discontinue using meters that ensured proper accounting of the amount of waste that GDMA removed from U.S. Navy ships to ensure that no overbilling occurred; and instructed a U.S. Navy official to ignore invoices that GDMA submitted after Francis complained that U.S. Navy personnel were asking questions.

Simpkins’ sentencing was set for September 9, 2016.