Navy scammer 'Fat Leonard' caught in Venezuela after 10 days on run
It remains unknown when the ex-fugitive contractor will be extradited back to the US, and now that he's caught, the fate of the dozens of convicted Navy officers remains unsettled.
A Malaysian-American defense contractor named Leonard Glenn Francis, aka “Fat Leonard”, has been caught on Tuesday at the Caracas airport while on the lam in Venezuela after he carried out one of the biggest bribery scandals in US military history.
He was about to board a flight for another country, the US Marshals Service said on Wednesday, when he was caught by the Interpol.
The “Fat Leonard” investigation exposed 60 admirals and 550 other US navy officers for accepting bribes. Just days before Francis was due to be sentenced for overcharging the navy $35 million, he cut off his GPS tracking ankle bracelet that kept him on house arrest, dropped it in a water cooler, and fled his residence in California on September 4. When US marshals arrived, neighbors said they witnessed U-Haul trucks in front of his house.
In addition to a $40,000 reward for his arrest, US authorities issued a red notice, meaning that law enforcement worldwide is allowed to temporarily arrest an individual with the possibility of extradition.
In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty on account of offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals, and more than $500,000 in bribes to navy officials to finance and expand his Singapore-based ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd (GDMA).
Among the list of violations, the company overcharged the Navy by at least $35 million for servicing ships and additionally supplied the navies of Britain, France, Mexico, India, and the Netherlands, flaunting a fleet of 50 vessels which includes a pirate patrol ship with British-trained Gurkha soldiers from Nepal. To add to his collection, Francis purchased a decommissioned British warship RFA Sir Lancelot, but renamed it the Glenn Braveheart, and turned it into a party boat with prostitutes in the wardroom to greet US officers.
According to prosecutors, officers involved in the scandal disguised themselves as "the Lion’s King Harem", "Brotherhood" and "Wolfpack" to recruit others to join in on the scam. US media outlets disclosed that four navy officers have been found guilty and approximately 29 people, including naval officials, contractors, and Francis, had pleaded guilty.
During his house arrest for medical care reasons, Francis remained cooperated with the prosecution, which helped prosecutors secure convictions of 33 of 34 defendants, including more than two dozen Navy officers.
As of now, there has been no update on when Francis would be extradited to the US.