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Bribery Scandal Snares 3rd Navy Leader

Monday, November 18, 2013

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Alleged gifts of prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash have led to charges against a third senior U.S. Navy official in a widening bribes-for-intelligence scandal involving a Singapore-based defense contractor.

U.S. Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested Wednesday (Nov. 6) in Tampa, FL, and made his initial appearance in federal court that afternoon, the Justice Department announced.

Two other senior Navy officials—another commander and a criminal investigator—were charged and arrested in September in the same scheme.

Contractors Charged

Also charged is Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, of Malaysia, the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), who was also arrested in September. GDMA provides port husbanding services and ship maintenance, including hull cleaning and painting and vessel repair.

Leonard Glenn Francis and  Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz
Left: Glenn Marine Group; Right: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Devon Dow

Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis (left), CEO of GDMA, allegedly provided luxury trips and prostitutes to three senior U.S. Navy officials, including Commander Michael Misiewicz (right). Stars and Stripes said Francis was a convicted felon in his native Malaysia before winning Navy contracts.

A second GDMA executive—Alex Wisidagama, 40, of Singapore—has also been charged in a related scheme to overbill the Navy for services provided in ports throughout Southeast Asia.

GDMA, which has operating locations throughout Asia and in the United States, allegedly overcharged the Navy and submitted bogus invoices for millions of dollars in services.

On Wednesday, Stars and Stripes reported the Francis, known as "Fat Leonard," had a history of weapons convictions and robbery charges in his native Malaysia before he won multimillion-dollar contracts from the U.S. Navy.

'This Investigation Continues to Widen'

The three senior Navy officials "abused their trusted positions as leaders in our armed forces by peddling favorable treatment—and even classified government information—for their personal benefit,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman said in a statement.

GDMA executives, in turn, "boasted about their unlawful access to those officials and then traded on the influence that they illegally bought," said Raman.

Glenn Marine Husbanding
Glenn Defense Marine Asia

GDMA provides husbanding services to U.S. Navy ships in addition to hull cleaning and painting and vessel repair. Authorities say GDMA's CEO swapped bribes and prostitutes for contracts and information.

"Day by day, this massive Navy fraud and bribery investigation continues to widen, and as the charges announced today show, we will follow the evidence wherever it takes us.”

'Lion King' and 'Brudda'

Prosecutors say Sanchez provided Francis with U.S. Navy ship schedules—some of them classified—and other internal information to help GDMA win and maintain Navy business.

Court records allege that Sanchez regularly emailed Francis internal Navy discussions about GDMA, including legal opinions, and made recommendations in GDMA’s favor about port visits and Navy personnel assignments.

In return, prosecutors said, Francis gave Sanchez more than $100,000 in cash, travel expenses and prostitutes. The conspiracy began in January 2009, when Sanchez was the Deputy Logistics Officer for the Commander of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan. It continued when he became Director of Operations for Fleet Logistics Command in Singapore and ended only when he transferred to Florida in April 2013.

In email and on Facebook, Sanchez referred to Francis as “Lion King” and “Boss”; Francis called Sanchez “brudda.”

A Nest for the Wolf Pack

Prosecutors say Francis hired female escorts for Sanchez and friends on multiple occasions, once emailing an escort in 2011: “Hey Love Jose is in Manila at the DIAMOND Hotel go and see him he needs some love asap.”

US-7th-Fleet
U.S. 7th Fleet

The alleged conspiracy began in January 2009, when Jose Luis Sanchez was the Deputy Logistics Officer for the Commander of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet in Japan. The storied fleet, based in the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans, is the largest forward-deployed U.S. fleet.

The escort responded, “Papi, I'm here jose's fon is not answering. I'm here [h]aving dri[n]ks at the lobby. Call him:: (( maybe his sleeping?”  Later that day, she emailed Francis, “I'm with h[i]m already heehhe.”

In a 2009 email exchange, Sanchez and Francis allegedly discussed a trip Sanchez was planning to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore with Navy friends he called his “Wolf Pack.” They discussed the number of rooms the Wolf Pack needed, and Sanchez asked for pictures of prostitutes for “motivation,” according to prosecutors.

Francis replied: “J, got it we will hook up after the FLAG dinner, will arrange a nest for you guys and some birds [women].”  A few days later, Sanchez sent Franics a Facebook message: “Yummy . . . daddy like.” Several days later, Sanchez Facebooked Francis: “Where r we staying in KL [Kuala Lumpur]?  No pictures to get our spirits up?”

'Classified Command File, Ha Ha'

On Oct. 20, 2011, according to court records, Francis asked Sanchez in an email to help “swing” business his way regarding a U.S. Navy ship’s need to refuel at a port in Thailand. (The Navy can use “sea cards” to buy fuel for ships at a discounted price negotiated by the Defense Logistics Agency for Energy, as opposed to buying at usually higher prices from the husbanding contractor.)

The next day, Sanchez emailed back: “Ask and you shall receive...we worked this out this morning…”

Court records say the USS Mustin did conduct a port visit at that time to Laem Chabang, Thailand, where it bought fuel from GDMA. The ship paid more than $1 million for the fuel—more than twice what it would have cost through use of the sea card.

The criminal complaint also alleges that Sanchez emailed Francis on Dec. 2, 2011, about the status of a GDMA investigation.

USS MUstin
U.S. Navy

“Ask and you shall receive," U.S. Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez allegedly assured Leonard Francis, after arranging for the USS Mustin (pictured) to fuel up through Francis's company. The $1 million-plus bill was more than twice the normal cost.

Francis replied: “I have inside Intel from NCIS and read all the reports. I will show you a copy of a Classified Command File on me from NCIS ha ha.”

Other Charges

Previously charged with bribery in the case were Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 46, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II, 44.

Misiewicz is also accused of providing sensitive Navy information to Francis and secretly working on GDMA's behalf in exchange for prostitutes and luxury travel.  Beliveau is also charged with illegally supplying Francis with sensitive information, including reports of NCIS investigations of GDMA.

The NCIS maintains an anonymous tipline for government contracting fraud, corruption and waste at www.ncis.navy.mil or through the Department of Defense Hotline at (800) 424-9098.

   

Tagged categories: Enforcement; Government contracts; Laws and litigation; Maintenance coating work; Maintenance programs; Marine Coatings; Rehabilitation/Repair; U.S. Navy

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