The ironically named Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless (so many potential one-liners here but we’ll let you create your own), along with 8 other senior Navy officials, including four retired captains and a retired marine colonel, have been arrested today in the so-called ‘Fat Leonard’ bribery scandal and charged with bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, honest services fraud, obstruction of justice and making false statements to federal investigators.
According to a federal grand jury indictment unsealed today, the Navy officers worked together to help Singapore-based defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis (a.k.a. “Fat Leonard”) and his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), pull off a ‘colossal fraud’ that cost the Navy – and ultimately U.S. taxpayers – tens of millions of dollars.
The indictment alleges that, among other things, ‘Fat Leonard’ and his associates repeatedly bribed Navy officials with “meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, gifts, cash, and the services of prostitutes.” Per RT:
The indictment also alleges that Francis frequently sponsored sex parties for many officers assigned to the ‘USS Blue Ridge’ and other warships.
The indictment mentions two port visits by the ‘Blue Ridge’ to Manila, the Philippines. During one, in February 2007, ‘Fat Leonard’ “paid for a lavish party and the services of prostitutes,” during which “historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by the participants in sexual acts.”
Another port visit to Manila in May 2008, saw Francis host “a raging multi-day party, with a rotating carousel of prostitutes” at the Shangri-La Hotel. The navy officers allegedly drank all the Dom Pérignon champagne the hotel had, and the room and alcohol charges stacked up to $50,000 – all of which was apparently covered in full by Francis.
In addition to the sex parties, the DOJ’s press release highlights lavish dinners complete with all sorts of fancy food, $2,000 bottles of Cognac and expensive Cuban cigars.
During the U.S.S. Blue Ridge’s port visit to Sydney Australia on June 17, 2007, Francis hosted and paid for a dinner event at the Altitude Restaurant within the Shangri-La Hotel. Some of the defendants dined on saute of scallops, foie gras, and beef loin for a cost of $11,898. During dinner, defendant Gorsuch handed Francis two floppy disks containing classified port visit information for many U.S. Navy ships, according to the indictment.
During one port visit in Singapore on March 9, 2006, Francis seduced the leaders of the Seventh Fleet with foie gras terrine, duck leg confit, ox-tail soup, roasted Chilean sea bass, paired with expensive wine and champagne, followed by digestifs and cigars. The extravagance included $600-a-bottle Hennessy Private Reserve, $2,000-a-bottle Paradis Extra and $2,000-a-box Cohiba Cigars.
Federal prosecutors say that in exchange, the charged officials provided ‘Fat Leonard’ with classified or inside information that allowed GDMA to extort nearly $35 million from the U.S. Navy. The leaked data includes ship movements and confidential contract information. In some cases, commanders steered ships to ports where GDMA could charge fake tariffs and fees, according to prosecutors cited by AP.
According to the indictment, the group of officers referred to themselves using various terms, such as “the Cool Kids,” “the Band of Brothers,” “the Brotherhood,” “the Wolfpack,” “the familia,” and “the Lion King’s Harem.” The officers tried to conceal their corrupt relationships by using fictitious names to create email addresses using foreign-based email services.
“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 U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “The alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet – the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy – actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country.”
“The defendants in this indictment were entrusted with the honor and responsibility of administering the operations of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which is tasked with protecting our nation by guarding an area of responsibility that spanned from Russia to Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco. “With this honor and awesome responsibility came a duty to make decisions based on the best interests of the Navy and the 40,000 Sailors and Marines under their care who put their lives at risk every day to keep us secure and free. Unfortunately, however, these defendants are alleged to have sold their honor and responsibility in exchange for personal enrichment.”
Navy officials have said that about 30 admirals are currently under investigation, though only a handful have been named publicly.
The scandal is one of the worst corruption cases in US Navy history and has plagued the military since “Fat Leonard” was arrested in 2013, after an international sting operation lured him from Singapore to San Diego.
In other news, Navy enlistments soared today…