U.S. Navy Admiral and Eight Other Officers Indicted for Trading Classified Information in Massive International Fraud and Bribery Scheme
March 14, 2017
Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
Retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless (once the Navy’s director of intelligence operations) and eight other high-ranking Navy officers are charged in a federal indictment with accepting luxury travel, elaborate dinners and services of prostitutes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Francis, the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), in exchange for classified and internal U.S. Navy information.
Including today’s defendants, a total of 25 named individuals have been charged in connection with the corruption and fraud investigation into GDMA, a defense-contracting firm based in Singapore. Of those charged, 20 are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are GDMA executives. To date, 13 have pleaded guilty while several other cases are pending.
“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 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.”
“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 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 allegations contained in today’s indictment expose flagrant corruption among several senior officers previously assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet. The charges and subsequent arrests are yet another unfortunate example of those who place their own greed above their responsibility to serve this nation with honor,” said Director O’Reilly. “This investigation should serve as a warning sign to those who attempt to compromise the integrity of the Department of Defense that DCIS and our law enforcement partners will continue to pursue these matters relentlessly.”
“Naval Criminal Investigative Service, in concert with our partner agencies, remains resolved to follow the evidence wherever it leads, and to help hold accountable those who make personal gain a higher priority than professional responsibility,” Director Traver. “It’s unconscionable that some individuals choose to enrich themselves at the expense of military security.”
According to the indictment, the Navy officers allegedly participated in a bribery scheme with Leonard Francis, in which the officers accepted travel and entertainment expenses, the services of prostitutes and lavish gifts in exchange for helping to steep lucrative contracts to Francis and GDMA and to sabotage competing defense contractors. The defendants allegedly violated many of their sworn official naval duties, including duties related to the handling of classified information and duties related to the identification and reporting of foreign intelligence threats. According to the indictment, the defendants allegedly worked in concert to recruit new members for the conspiracy, and to keep the conspiracy secret by using fake names and foreign email service providers. According to the indictment, the bribery scheme allegedly cost the Navy – and U.S. taxpayers – tens of millions of dollars.
DCIS, NCIS and the Defense Contract Audit Agency are investigating the case. Assistant Chief Brian R. Young of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mark W. Pletcher and Patrick Hovakimian of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.
(The charges and allegations contained in an indictment are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.)
The group of current and retired officers were allegedly receiving a stream of gifts beginning in 2006 from Leonard Glenn Francis, aka “Fat Leonard”. In return Francis, who owned the ship servicing company Glenn Defense Marine Asia, was said to have gotten access to classified information such as ship schedules and to the services of the officers who used their position to steer Navy business to his company. Francis pleaded guilty to orchestrating the scheme that overbilled the Navy by at least $20 million.
For more than a decade, the Singapore-based contractor bribed Navy officials in the giant Seventh Fleet to use their influence to steer ships to ports that his company controlled. Once they were there, he systematically overbilled the service for fuel, water, transport and many other services. The indictment contained a familiar litany of misdeeds — lavish meals, the services of prostitutes and gifts all paid for by Francis.
The indictment said some of the defendants lied about their relationship with Francis, deleted email accounts that carried incriminating messages about the bribery scheme, and destroyed a hard drive from the George Washington aircraft carrier in an effort to impede the probe and cover up their actions.
Retired Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty in June to a charge of lying to federal investigators. Also named in the indictment was Navy Capt. David Newland, former chief of staff to the commander of the Seventh Fleet, the service’s largest fleet and the center of the bribery scheme.
What a sad commentary and stain on Navy leadership this has been. It simply highlights for me how leadership can get out of hand and black market can flourish within our military systems if tight control and penalties are not forthcoming. This isn’t a lone incident unfortunately and during war-time can be quite prevalent but still it should not happen. These kind of events will happen when the military loses sight of its honor or when personnel believe they have no purpose or value as they see pay and privileges shrink and public sentiment drop. This happens when drugs are easily obtained and a relaxing of standards of conduct is allowed to soften resolve. It also happens if politics gets in the way of military orders and morale is deliberately attacked as we have seen over the last eight years. And it happens when military personnel believe no one has their back like Benghazi.
Now we have a new commander-in-chief and a strong secretary of defense, I hope morale and belief in the military will return not just for those already in service but for new recruits who may have wanted to enlist but heard too many tales of stupid behavior to trust that they would be able to succeed. We can’t have a strong military without all of the tools needed–not just equipment–but enlistees who have confidence in leaders, higher morale, and better discipline.