A naval officer from San Diego Thursday became the 12th defendant — nine of them Navy personnel — to plead guilty in connection with a scheme in which a foreign defense contractor received proprietary military information in exchange for cash, luxury hotel stays and the services of prostitutes.
Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord admitted during a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard Skomal that he accepted bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis, operator of Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
Debord, 41, also conceded that he instructed GDMA executives to inflate invoices to the Navy to cover the cost of various illicit gifts provided to him.
Debord will face a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced Jan. 13.
“This conduct is a disgrace to the U.S. Navy and an affront to U.S. taxpayers who were left to foot the bill for parties and prostitutes,” U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.
“We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”
Debord was such an enthusiastic participant in the corrupt scheme that GDMA executives described him as “over the moon” and joked that he had swallowed their bribes “hook, line and sinker,” according to instant messages quoted in his plea agreement.
From November 2007 to January 2013, Debord provided Francis and others with internal Navy information, directed Francis and GDMA to inflate invoices to reflect services not actually rendered, advocated for the Navy to procure items from the company under its husbanding contracts and otherwise used his position and influence to advocate for and advance GDMA’s interests, court documents state.
As part of the conspiracy, Debord, Francis and others sought to conceal the nature and extent of their relationship by, among other things, using fictitious email accounts to communicate and employing coded language and designed to obscure the true nature of their corrupt relationship, including referring to prostitutes as “cheesecakes” and “bodyguards.”
In early 2008, Debord emailed a GDMA executive to ask him to provide prostitutes during a visit by the USS Essex to Manila.
Part of the message stated that Debord was “checking to see if I will have my security … . I however do not want anyone to know I have a bodyguard.” The recipient responded: “Bodyguards are standing by,” according to prosecutors.
About eight months later, Debord emailed GDMA executives, advising them that the Navy’s ship-husbanding contract in the Philippines was up for renewal and asking that the firm provide him with an apartment for an upcoming port visit by the amphibious assault ship to Hong Kong.
Debord noted that he and another GDMA employee “had fun” during the Philippines port stop, “ate lots of cheesecake” and “even ate some in a group session.”
In February 2010, Debord asked a GDMA executive to provide him with three hotel rooms, two cellphones, a van and $2,000 worth of Singapore money, and instructed the executive to recover the value of the items by inflating the amount that the company would charge the Navy for potable water and trash removal for a visit to Singapore the Essex made the prior year.
Francis approved the payment to Debord as instructed, court papers state.
A total of 16 people have been charged as part of the ongoing investigation.
Most are current or former Navy officials, including John Beliveau, an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; retired Capt. Michael Brooks; Debord; Capt. Daniel Dusek; Adm. Robert Gilbeau, who is believed to be the first active-duty U.S. Navy flag officer charged in a federal criminal case; Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug; Lt. Cmdr. Todd Malaki; Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz; Cmdr. Bobby Pitts; and Cmdr. Jose Sanchez.
Also charged was Paul Simpkins, a former Department of Defense civilian employee who oversaw contracting in Singapore.
Among those, Beliveau, Dusek, Gilbeau, Layug, Malaki, Misiewicz, Sanchez and Simpkins have entered guilty pleas.
In January, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison, and Malaki was sentenced to a term of 40 months.
In March, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months behind bars. The following month, a judge ordered Misiewicz to serve 78 months in custody.
Beliveau is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. Gilbeau, Sanchez, and Simpkins also await sentencing.
Brooks and Pitts were charged in May, and their prosecutions are pending.
Also charged in the case are five GDMA executives. Three of them — Francis, Ed Aruffo and Alex Wisidagama — have pleaded guilty. The latter was sentenced in March to 63 months in prison.
Francis and Aruffo await sentencing, and the prosecutions of the other two, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, are ongoing.
–City News Service
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