Leonard Glenn Francis orchestrated one of the largest fraud scandals in United States military history.
But before he was sentenced for his role in the case, the businessman, known as “Fat Leonard,” managed to escape his California house arrest by cutting off his electronic ankle shackle, and fled the country earlier this month.
On Wednesday, the 57-year-old was recaptured at the Simón Bolívar airport in Maiquetía in Venezuela when trying to board a flight to Russia.
Interpol had issued a blanket warrant for his arrest as US authorities tried to locate him.
And according to the agency, Francis had entered the South American country from Mexico, after a stopover in Cuba.
It is now planned that be extradited to the United States.
Francis was to be sentenced after pleading guilty to a military contractor fraud scheme that began decades ago.
Investigators say the contractor defrauded the Navy of more than $35 million by buying officer favors with sex parties and lavish gifts.
Who is Fat Leonard
With his 158 kilos of weight, the Malaysian businessman had earned the nickname “Fat Leonard” (Leonard the fat).
But he was also known in naval circles as “Leonard the Legend.”
Francis went andthe mastermind of an extensive bribery scheme that operated through his Singapore-based company, which provided services to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
His company, a family business called Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. or GDMA, It supplied food, water, and fuel to ships.
And with what some commentators describe as “his huge jovial personality,” the contractor was soon courting favors and business across Asia, making himself rich courting US Navy commanders with parties and lavish gifts.
“The tools of his trade included whisky, cuban cigars, spanish suckling pigsKobe calves and what prosecutors described as ‘a revolving carousel of prostitutes’, designer handbags, tickets to see Lady Gaga, Gucci fashion shows and cash, all to win a refueling boat or the contract administration throughout Southeast Asia,” writes Edward Helmore, a reporter for The Guardian newspaper.
Thus, the businessman became the main point of contact for US Navy ships in Asian ports for more than two decades. He was often photographed dining and drinking with top US officials.
He was arrested in 2013 and in 2015 pleaded guilty and admitted he had offered more than $500,000 in cash bribes to Navy officials, defense contractors and others who aided in his scheme.
He was said to have used his influence to get commanders to steer their ships — primarily those of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, the largest of the deployed fleets — to ports he controlled so he could cover up bogus cargo.
Prosecutors claim that defrauded the Navy of at least $35 million and the investigation placed some 60 admirals and 550 officers under scrutiny for taking bribes.
More than 30 Navy officers and contractors have been convicted or convicted of corruption charges.
His company did not only do business with the US Navy. Also it supplied services to the navies of the United Kingdom, France, Mexico, India and the Netherlands.
According to The Guardian, Francis had a fleet of 50 vessels, including a decommissioned British warship, the RFA Sir Lancelot, which he renamed the Glenn Braveheart and turned into a party boat where prostitutes welcomed American officers. .
house arrest and flight
While Francis was in custody, he was hospitalized and treated for kidney cancer and other medical problems, and underwent unspecified procedures, according to court transcripts.
After leaving the hospital, the judge allowed him to stay in a condominium in San Diego, California, in 2018 to continue receiving medical care there, but was ordered to wear a GPS electronic ankle shackle and have 24-hour security guards.
But on September 4, the police came to his house after problems with his electronic shackle were detected.
“Arriving They realized that no one was home.U.S. Marshals spokesman Omar Castillo told reporters at the time.
He added that neighbors said moving trucks had been in and out of the property in recent weeks.
His recapture is the latest chapter in an embarrassing scandal for the US Navy, a case the Justice Department has described as a colossal fraud involving tens of millions of dollars. (YO)