Three current and former U.S. Navy officers appeared in federal court Friday to face charges that they secretly worked on behalf of foreign defense contractor Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis to advance the interests of his company, including instances in which a highly influential captain allowed Francis to ghostwrite official Navy documents and correspondence and submit them as his own.
In exchange, Francis plied the now-retired Capt. Michael Brooks, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, with prostitutes, luxury travel, a days-long party in a presidential suite and other gifts, according to authorities.
Also charged this week in the massive bribery and fraud scheme were Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord, who is based in Singapore.
The charging documents allege that in return for lavish entertainment and travel expenses, the services of prostitutes and other illicit gifts, the defendants brazenly used their public offices to foist benefit after benefit upon Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia, including passing on sensitive internal U.S. Navy information to advance GDMA’s business interests and advocating for GDMA at every turn.
Brooks, 57, and Debord, 47, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery; Pitts, also 47, was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of official proceedings. All of the charges relate to the defendants’ interactions with Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a defense contracting firm based in Singapore with a decades-long relationship with the U.S. Navy.
Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearance today in federal court in Virginia. Debord appeared in federal court in San Diego.
According to an indictment, from June 2006 to July 2008, Brooks served as the U.S. Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. In that position, Brooks served as the representative of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United Forces of the United States in Manila and also as the military advisor to the United States Ambassador.
The indictment alleges that in exchange for travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes — which Brooks and Francis referred to in code as “chocolate” or “mocha shakes” or “high tea” — Brooks used his office to benefit GDMA and Francis.
According to the indictment, Brooks secured quarterly diplomatic clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the U.S. Embassy; he limited the amount of custom fees and taxes that GDMA was required to pay in the Philippines; and enabled GDMA to avoid inspection of any quantity or type of cargo that it transported.
According to the indictment, from August 2009 to May 2011, Pitts was the Officer in Charge of the Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command, which was charged with meeting the logistical needs of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet. The indictment alleges that Pitts conspired with Francis and others to deprive the Department of the Navy with its right to have its affairs conducted free from corruption, fraud and obstruction.
In particular, in an effort to obstruct and impede the Department of the Navy’s ability to properly oversee and administer its ship husbanding contracts with GDMA, Pitts allegedly provided Francis with a hard copy of an NCIS report marked “for official use only,” which detailed an investigation by NCIS into GDMA for contract fraud.
According to a criminal complaint, from November 2007 to August 2013, Debord served in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific. In exchange for cash, hotel stays and the services of prostitutes, Debord allegedly provided Francis with inside Navy information and documents, including information on an investigation into GDMA billing practices.
Including Brooks, Pitts and Debord, 13 people have been charged in connection with the scheme; of those, nine have pleaded guilty, including U.S. Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, U.S. Navy Capt. (Select) Michael Misiewicz, Lt. Cmdr. Todd Malaki, NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau, Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug. Former Department of Defense civilian employee Paul Simpkins is awaiting trial.
Leonard pleaded guilty last year.
–City News Service