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Fat Leonard’ Scandal Influences Pentagon’s pick to lead Joint Chiefs

Fat Leonard

By Debbie Gregory.

When it came time for the Pentagon to chose a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of their top choices turned out to be tainted rattled by the “Fat Leonard” scandal.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” because of his size, has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes and more.  He wanted classified information to help his Singapore-based company retain lucrative contracts to resupply Navy vessels in the Pacific, as it had done for more than a quarter-century.

Francis confessed to swindling the Navy out of $35 million and bribing scores of officers.

Francis confided to federal agents in early 2015 that he had paid for opulent dinners and other favors for Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, then-commander of U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Locklear was one of four contenders to head the Joint Chiefs.

While the Justice Department decided to not press charges, and despite being cleared of wrongdoing by the Navy, his association with the 350-pound contractor helped sink Locklear’s chances to lead the Joint Chiefs.

The Navy has declined to disclose how many people it has kicked out of the service for taking bribes or gifts from Francis.

Locklear last served as the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command from March 9, 2012, to May 27, 2015. Prior to that, he served as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe – U.S. Naval Forces Africa and NATO’s Commander, Allied Joint Force Command Naples. Prior to that, he served as Director, Navy Staff from July 2009 to October 2010. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 2015, after 39 years of service.

President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Joseph Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and took over from Army General Martin Dempsey on September 25, 2015, and officially took office on October 1, 2015.

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Vice Admiral Avoids Charges in ‘Fat Leonard’ Probe

branch

By Debbie Gregory.

Unlike Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, who was convicted of lying to federal agents about receiving bribes in the “Fat Leonard” scandal,  the U.S. Department of Justice decided not bring charges against Vice Adm. Ted “Twig” Branch, the former director of Navy intelligence.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” because of his size, has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes and more.  He wanted classified information to help his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, that supplied food and fuel to ships.

Prosecutors allege that he overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million.

The Navy has closed its review with appropriate administrative action for Branch.

“The Department of Justice declined to prosecute Vice Adm. Ted Branch and forwarded his matter to the Department of the Navy’s Consolidated Disposition Authority,” said Navy Fleet Forces Command spokesman Cmdr. Mike Kafka.

“The last three years were extremely difficult for my family and me, but we are glad now to turn the page,” said Branch.

Branch served in the Navy for 37 years. At the time the case was opened, former Navy Secretary Ray Mabus and his admirals felt that they couldn’t fire Branch from his intelligence post, so they left him in his job but they stripped him of his security clearance.

At the time, Branch said, “Probably the most important point is, I am not a danger to national security, nor have I ever been, nor will I ever be, and the idea that I would be is insulting.”

No one thought the case would drag on for months, let alone years.

“As time went on, they (at the Department of Justice) questioned us, ‘Why aren’t you replacing him?’ But we were in a horrible position,” Mabus said. “They made us aware of potential problems, but we had no grounds to relieve him.”

Branch, a highly decorated career aviator, retired from the Navy on October 1st. He received multiple recognition for combat valor over the skies of Grenada, Lebanon, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq.

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Former Navy Admiral Gets 18 Months in ‘Fat Leonard’ Bribery Scandal

admiral

By Debbie Gregory.

Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau was convicted of lying to federal agents about receiving bribes in the “Fat Leonard” scandal.

Gilbeau, who acknowledged his wrongdoing in federal court in San Diego, told the judge he is “deeply sorry” and cannot explain his actions. He stood in court accompanied by his dog, his aid for coping with PTSD.

Gilbeau’s defense argued that his PTSD and a traumatic brain injury from a blast in Iraq should be taken into account, though prosecutors said he was exaggerating his condition because he knew he was going to get caught.  The Purple Heart and  Bronze Star recipient was sentenced to 18 months in jail.

“When tempted by parties and prostitutes, one of our most respected leaders chose karaoke over character, and cover-up over confession,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson. “In doing so, he forever tarnished the reputation of a revered institution.”

Gilbeau wrote in a letter to the judge that “I have no one to blame but myself.” He was allowed to retire in October but his rank was reduced from rear admiral to captain.

Leonard Glenn Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” because of his size, has admitted to bribing Navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash, prostitutes and more.  He wanted classified information to help his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia that supplied food and fuel to ships.

Prosecutors allege that he overbilled the Navy by more than $34 million.

Gilbeau signed an invoice for the USS Nimitz that was the highest amount the Navy ever paid in the ship’s history for wastewater removal.

To date, there have been twenty current and former Navy officials who have been charged.  Ten of those have pleaded guilty.

What you think?   Should Gilbeau have received a lesser or more severe sentence?

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.