According to documents unsealed in federal court yesterday, a grand jury has indicted nine former and active-duty Navy officials on charges of corruption, fraud, obstruction of justice, and other crimes. Four retired Navy captains, a retired Marine colonel, and a former Navy admiral, Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, are among those charged. Loveless served as the Navy’s director of intelligence operations from 2013 to 2014. He pled not guilty in federal court yesterday afternoon.
The charges relate to the so-called “Fat Leonard” bribery scandal that came to light four years ago. The case revolves around a Singapore-based defense contractor named Leonard Glenn Francis. The indictment alleges that, beginning in 2006, the officials accepted gifts, meals, lodging, and the services of prostitutes. In return, officers provided Francis with classified and internal Navy information and steered Navy business to Francis’ ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
The salacious bribes detailed in the indictment include $2,000 boxes of Cuban cigars, $50,000 worth of hotel expenses in Singapore, a $20,435 meal in Hong Kong, and a sex party with prostitutes in the Philippines. As investigators closed in on the scheme, some officials allegedly misrepresented their relationship with Francis, deleted incriminating emails, and destroyed a hard drive from a Navy aircraft carrier.
Prosecutors allege that the scheme defrauded the Navy of nearly $35 million. “This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy’s highest-ranking officers,” said Acting US Attorney Alana Robinson in a statement released by the Justice Department on Tuesday. In total, twenty-five people have been charged in connection with the scheme, which ranks amongst the Navy’s worst corruption scandals in history.
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