‘Fat Leonard’: Military contractor who orchestrated major Navy corruption scandal escapes house arrest
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA: A Malaysian businessman has escaped house arrest in San Diego by cutting off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet after pleading guilty to the US navy’s worst corruption scandal, federal authorities have confirmed. Leonard Glenn Francis, known as 'Fat Leonard,' pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering $500,000 in bribes to navy officers. He was scheduled to be sentenced in a few weeks.
US Marshal Omar Castillo, the supervisory deputy, said Francis fled his home Sunday morning, September 4, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. When officers arrived at the scene, they found pieces of his broken GPS tracker bracelet. Francis, however, was gone and the property was empty.
Who is 'Fat Leonard'?
Fat Leonard headed a military contracting company in Singapore. He allegedly offered the services of prostitutes and expensive meals worth thousands of dollars to gain inside information and influence. Prosecutors said Navy officers received gifts, including wine, Cuban cigars, and cash. In exchange for the gifts, the officers passed along information and also diverted military ships to ports where his company actually charged bogus duties and fees.
Francis' company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, provided food, fuel, and water to Navy ships in the Pacific. He and his company allegedly overcharged the Navy by nearly $35 million. Officers involved in the fraud tried to recruit others by referring to themselves as the Lion's King Harem, Brotherhood, Wolfpack, prosecutors said.
Francis was eventually arrested in 2013 during a raid on a San Diego hotel room. Two years later, he pleaded guilty to the crime. Francis suffers from several health conditions, including kidney cancer. He has been held in a private residence since 2018.
While four Navy officers were found guilty in connection with the fraud, another 29 individuals, including Navy officials, contractors, and Francis, eventually pleaded guilty. US Marshal Omar Castillo said neighbors told authorities they had seen U-Haul moving vehicles outside the house where he was being held in the days before Francis escaped. “He was planning this out, that’s for sure,” Castillo said.
While the US Marshals Service was called in to assist, the San Diego Regional Fugitive Task Force was activated. A high-profile manhunt is now underway. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is also assisting in the search. He had spearheaded the case against Francis more than a decade ago.