SECNAV censures retired admiral, officers in US Navy bribery case

A retired US Navy admiral and two other officers have been censured by the Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer for their involvement in the ongoing ‘Fat Leonard’ bribery case.

Official seal of the Department of the Navy

The Secretarial Letters of Censure were issued to now-retired US Navy Rear Adm. Richard Wren, Captain Timothy Conroy and Captain Charles Johnson.

The censures are based on findings regarding each of those officers’ improper interactions with and acceptance of gifts from Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a defense contractor and prohibited source.

Secretary Spencer determined that Rear Adm. (Ret.) Wren, between 2007 and 2010, repeatedly and improperly accepted gifts from Leonard Francis and GDMA, a prohibited source, while serving as Commander, Carrier Strike Group Five (CSG-5) and Commander, US Naval Forces Japan, in the Seventh Fleet area of operations.

Secretary Spencer also determined that in 2015, Rear Adm. (Ret.) Wren made a false official statement to mislead investigators about the nature of his relationship with Mr. Francis. Finally, in light of the nature and circumstances of those gifts and his interactions with GDMA/Mr. Francis, Secretary Spencer also determined that Rear Adm. (Ret.) Wren’s personal behavior constituted conduct unbecoming an officer. Rear Adm.(Ret.) Wren retired from the Navy in 2011.

The foregoing officers’ conduct was examined as part of the joint investigation led by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and reviewed by the Navy Consolidated Disposition Authority (CDA) for GDMA matters. In each case, Spencer has determined that the officer’s conduct was contrary to the Standards of Ethical Conduct, the Joint Ethics Regulation, US Navy Regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

“It is incumbent that naval officers, particularly those placed in positions of great trust and responsibility, be held to the highest standards of both personal and professional behavior,” said Spencer.

“Rear Adm. (Ret.) Wren, Capt. (Ret.) Conroy and Capt. Johnson, while serving in such positions, each disregarded those standards and engaged in conduct that reflected unethical and improper personal behavior and set poor standards of leadership. Each officer’s conduct is an embarrassment to the thousands of officers, Sailors and civilians who do the right thing every day.”

GDMA is the subject of an ongoing federal fraud and bribery investigation, which was initiated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). In March 2014, the Secretary of the Navy directed the appointment of a CDA to act as an independent authority to review GDMA matters forwarded by the DOJ to the Department of the Navy after the DOJ has declined to press criminal charges in the federal judicial system.

So far, 20 of 29 defendants charged in the bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.