Vice Admiral Avoids Charges in ‘Fat Leonard’ Probe
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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