Charged About 30 admirals are under investigation. Today, the Navy remains in the grip of overlapping civilian and military investigations that are slowly unraveling long skeins of misconduct. So far, four Navy officers, an enlisted sailor and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service NCIS have pleaded guilty to federal crimes and are already behind bars or are facing prison time.
So have Francis and two other Glenn Defense executives. On Friday, three more current and former Navy officers were charged in federal court with corruption-related offenses. Charges are also pending against two former Navy contracting officials who were arrested last year. Many others remain under investigation. Exactly how many is a mystery. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, summoned about admirals to a special gathering in Washington.
Without naming names, he revealed that about 30 of them were under criminal investigation by the Justice Department or ethical scrutiny by the Navy for their connections to Francis, according to two senior Navy officials with direct knowledge of the meeting. Because all but five of the 14 defendants charged in the Fat Leonard case have pleaded guilty, and no trials have taken place, only a small fraction of the evidence has been made public so far.
Leonard Francis President and chief executive officer, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Status Pleaded guilty in January to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Read more This account of how Francis corrupted the Navy is based on interviews with more than two dozen current and former Navy officials, as well as hundreds of pages of court filings, contracting records and military documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act FOIA.
Ethan Posner, an attorney for Francis, declined to comment. The Navy declined interview requests and referred questions to the Justice Department. Laura Duffy, the U. The investigation has mushroomed partly because Glenn Defense was a pillar of U. The 7th Fleet depended on the firm more than any other to refuel and resupply its vessels. Over time, Francis became so skilled at cultivating Navy informants that it was a challenge to juggle them all.
On a near-daily basis, they pelted him with demands for money, prostitutes, hotel rooms and plane tickets. At one time he had infiltrated the entire leadership line. The KGB could not have done what he did. Although Francis came from wealth and was tutored in private schools, he bore scars from a dysfunctional childhood. His mother had split from his philandering father.
In , a year-old Francis got into serious legal trouble. His estranged parents jointly paid the fine. Apparently angry at the light sentence, however, police rearrested Francis as he was leaving the courthouse and charged him with committing a string of robberies, a Malaysian newspaper reported at the time. The robbery charges were dropped. After absorbing his punishment, Francis devoted himself to the family business. There was money to be made working for the U.
Lacking knowledge to navigate the byzantine world of U. Francis soaked up military culture from the veterans on his payroll. He learned Navy lingo and wore neckties emblazoned with the American flag. By the early s, he had secured contracts to service U. At its height, Glenn Defense and its subsidiaries boasted a fleet of more than 50 vessels. Most were tugs and barges, but the firm also advertised the services of a patrol ship with armed guards — British-trained Gurkha soldiers from Nepal — to fend off pirates.
After he moved to Singapore, Francis projected the image of a wildly successful tycoon. As he rode around the city, bystanders would gawk at his black, armored SUV with the puncture-resistant tires. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, hundreds of people would pass by his 70,square-foot estate, marveling at the spectacular holiday-light extravaganza his staff erected each year.
A Roman Catholic, Francis encouraged the publicity but politely declined to say how much the decorations cost. The Glenn Braveheart seen in Singapore in When in port, Francis would sometimes turn the Braveheart into a giant party boat, with prostitutes in the wardroom to entertain U.
Whenever a Navy vessel arrived in port, the odds were high that Francis would be waiting at the pier. Like a five-star concierge, he would arrange for shopping trips, sightseeing tours and concert tickets.
Select sailors would be invited to an extravagant banquet, featuring cognac and whiskey, Cohiba cigars from Cuba, and platters of Spanish suckling pig and Kobe beef. He refurbished and renamed it the Glenn Braveheart. Donnelly, then 7th Fleet chief of staff, said in a March 10, , letter. Willard, then the 7th Fleet commander, on June 3, Your timely efforts and service will remain unparalleled. Now retired, he declined to comment. Jonathan Greenert, the next commander of the 7th Fleet, on March 9, Keep up the great work.
I wish you and your staff the very best and continued success! He retired last year and declined to comment. Francis treated the Bravo Zulu notes as celebrity endorsements, highlighting them in company brochures.
One brochure, published in , shows Francis, smiling, in a collage of photos with Greenert and Willard and Adm. Sam Locklear, who later became commander of U. Mike Mullen, a chief of naval operations who became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gary Roughead, another chief of naval operations. All have since retired. Locklear and Roughead declined to comment. Sally Donnelly, an adviser to Mullen, issued a statement on his behalf saying that he appeared in thousands of informal photographs a year with people, many of whom he did not know.
The admiral said he declined the presents. The firm became a leading sponsor of the Navy League of the United States, a civilian nonprofit group that advocates on behalf of the Navy. An undated photograph shows then-Vice Adm. Jonathan Greenert with Leonard Glenn Francis. He later became a four-star admiral and chief of naval operations.
A photograph shows Adm. Mike Mullen with Francis. An undated photograph shows Francis with Adm. Schaus told The Post that he summoned Francis for an explanation. Do you know who I am? If you tried to rock the boat, you got squashed. Francis threw a Christmas party for the visiting officers at the Island Shangri-La, a five-star hotel. The officer protested and brought up the lavish party from the night before. When a Navy official in Singapore flagged questionable bills from Glenn Defense stemming from the port visit, one of Francis's alleged moles nipped the inquiry in the bud, according to prosecutors.
Miller and his officers were accustomed to eating well with Francis. One week earlier, when the strike group had visited Malaysia, Francis took them to the Chalet Suisse restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. To comply with ethics rules, Miller and two other senior officers wrote personal checks to reimburse Francis. In fact, the dinners actually cost more than 10 times that much: After the meals, Miller and other officers showered Francis with Bravo Zulu messages.
He was formally censured by the Navy last year and retired soon after. He declined to comment. He alerted NCIS and asked for a criminal inquiry. But the case went nowhere and only provoked a backlash.
Navy officials declined to comment. He resigned his Navy commission a few months later. Kaur has been charged with corruption and money-laundering offenses in Singapore. Her case is pending. Her attorney did not respond to emails seeking comment.
Also in , Francis began a relationship with Paul Simpkins, an American civilian who worked in Singapore as a Navy contract supervisor. In addition to allegedly rigging the Navy contracts for Francis, Simpkins served as a secret fixer in other matters for Glenn Defense, according to the indictment.
For example, when a Navy official in Singapore flagged questionable bills from the company related to a port visit by the USS Decatur, a guided-missile destroyer, Simpkins nipped the inquiry in the bud, prosecutors said.
Contact the ship and rescind your request. Simpkins left the Singapore office that year to become a senior contracting executive for the Justice Department and later for the Defense Department. Prosecutors have accused him of maintaining a relationship with Francis while he worked in Washington. During a return trip to Singapore for vacation, Simpkins asked Francis to arrange for some prostitutes, court records show. A few days later, he added: Simpkins has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.