A commander in the U.S. Navy pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal bribery charges for accepting money, gifts, travel, and prostitutes from a contractor who supplied services to the Navy in Asia.
Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, an active duty U.S. Navy officer stationed in San Diego, California, became the fifth defendant to plead guilty in the scandal. Seven defendants have been charged.
Sanchez was arrested in November 2013.
The DOJ alleged that Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), a Singapore-based contractor that serviced U.S. Navy ships and submarines throughout the Pacific, used bribery to win more than $20 million in contracts.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in an appearance Tuesday in federal court in California.
From 2008 to 2013, Sanchez was assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Asia. Beginning in September 2009, he “entered into a bribery scheme with Leonard Glenn Francis, the CEO of GDMA,” the DOJ said.
In exchange for the bribes, the DOJ said, Sanchez gave Francis classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive Navy information. Sanchez also influenced Navy decisions to award work to GDMA.
In return, Francis gave Sanchez cash, travel and entertainment expenses, and the services of prostitutes, the DOJ said.
The bribery scheme continued for about two years until September 2013, according to admissions Sanchez made in his plea.
Francis was charged in a complaint unsealed in November 2013. He has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to commit bribery.
In his plea, Sanchez said Francis paid for his five-night stay at the Shangri-La, a luxury hotel in Singapore, and for travel from Asia to the United States. The trip cost about $7,500. Francis also arranged and paid for prostitutes for Sanchez in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia.
Two other U.S. Navy officials — former NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug — have pleaded guilty in the case.
The DOJ also said Tuesday that a U.S. Navy officer, Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, 47, of San Diego, California, was charged with a bribery conspiracy and seven counts of bribery. For two years until 2013, the DOJ said, Misiewicz gave Glenn classified U.S. Navy ship schedules and other sensitive Navy information. Glenn also gave Misiewicz cash, trips, and the services of prostitutes, the DOJ said.
Leslie Caldwell, chief of the DOJ’s criminal division, said Tuesday: “Commander Sanchez sold out his command and country for cash bribes, luxury hotel rooms, and the services of prostitutes.”
“After today’s guilty plea,” Caldwell said, “instead of free stays at the Shangri-La hotel, Sanchez is facing many nights in federal prison.”
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.