- Malaysian national Leonard Glenn Francis, widely known as ‘Fat Leonard’, pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing US Navy officers
- Prosecutors said he plied them with cash, gourmet food and sex parties to steer official work towards his military contracting company in Singapore
Published: 2:32pm, 6 Sep, 2022
A Malaysian businessman at the centre of a major US Navy bribery scandal has escaped house arrest ahead of his impending sentencing by cutting off his monitoring anklet.
“Leonard Francis cut off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet Sunday morning,” Supervisory Deputy US Marshal Omar Castillo said in a statement on Monday local time.
Leonard Glenn Francis, widely known as “Fat Leonard”, is a Malaysian national who ran a military contracting company out of Singapore called Glenn Defense Marine Asia. He was due to be sentenced in three weeks, US media said.
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering some US$500,000 in bribes to US Navy officers to steer official work to his shipyards, carrying out work on US vessels that prosecutors say he overcharged the navy for, to the tune of US$35 million.
Prosecutors said that in exchange for contracts Francis plied navy officers with cash, gourmet food, expensive cigars, rare cognac and wild sex parties in fancy hotels.
Police were sent to his San Diego residence on Sunday after the agency monitoring his ankle bracelet reported a problem with the device, Castillo said.
“Upon arrival they noticed that nobody was home,” he said.
“They then notified US Marshals who went to the house and verified that he was no longer there. As of now multiple leads are being investigated.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the cut-off GPS bracelet was found in the house, while neighbours said they had seen U-Haul moving trucks coming and going at the property in the days leading up to his escape.
“He was planning this out, that’s for sure,” the newspaper quoted Castillo as saying.
He was planning this out, that’s for sure
Francis was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty two years later. He suffered numerous health problems, including kidney cancer, which led to him being released to house arrest in 2018 while acting as a cooperating witness for federal prosecutors.
He was set to be sentenced on September 22.
Four US Navy officers have been found guilty in the case so far, while another 29 people, including naval officials, contractors and Francis himself, have pleaded guilty, US media said.
The US Justice Department, which called the scheme a colossal fraud that cost the US Navy tens of millions of dollars, brought charges against more than 30 people, many of whom pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial.
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