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DoD civilian employee pleads guilty to bribery in Fat Leonard case

A former Department of Defense (DoD) senior contracting official pleaded guilty Thursday to taking bribes from Leonard Glenn Francis — also known as Fat Leonard — the owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Paul Simpkins, 61, of Haymarket, Virginia, supervised contracting officers responsible for awarding and administering U.S. Navy contracts. 

Sentencing is set for September 9.

From 2006 until 2012, Fat Leonard gave Simpkins cash, travel expenses, and the services of prostitutes. In  return, Simpkins helped steer contracts to Glenn Defense and intervened for the company in contracting disputes with the U.S. Navy. 

Glenn Defense provided U.S. Navy ships at ports throughout Asia with food, fuel, cleaning, and other port services.

Francis transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to a bank account in Japan controlled by Simpkins’s former wife, the DOJ said. Simpkins then sent the money to a U.S. bank account held in his own name.   

Among the favors Simpkins did in return for the bribes:

  • He extended Glenn Marine’s contract after a subordinate recommended the contract not be extended due to high costs.
  • He instructed U.S. Navy officials in Hong Kong to stop using meters that ensured proper accounting of the amount of waste that Glenn Marine removed from U.S. Navy ships to ensure that no overbilling occurred.
  • And he told a U.S. Navy official not to examine invoices that Glenn Marine submitted after Francis complained that U.S. Navy personnel were asking questions.

Fourteen individuals have been charged in the case. Eleven of them have now pleaded guilty.

Francis, 51, pleaded guilty to bribing scores of U.S. Navy officials with luxury travel, meals, cash, electronics, parties, and prostitutes.

Federal agents arrested the Malaysian citizen after luring him to San Diego to talk about rich new contracts.

Earlier this month, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau, 55, of Burke, Virginia, pleaded guilty to destroying evidence and lying to federal investigators about his relationship with Francis.

In May, three senior Navy officers — two of them active and one retired — were also charged.

They were Navy Captain Michael Brooks, 57, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, Commander Bobby Pitts, 47, of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Lieutenant Commander Gentry Debord, 47, who’s based in Singapore.

Five individuals including four U.S. Navy officers have been sentenced in the case:

  • Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug, jailed 27 months
  • Lieutenant Commander Todd Malaki, sentenced to 40 months in prison
  • Alex Wisidagama, a former Glenn Defense employee, sentenced to 63 months in prison and ordered to  pay $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy
  • Captain Daniel Dusek, sentenced to 46 months in prison, and

NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau and U.S. Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez have pleaded guilty and are waiting to be sentenced.

In February 2015, three rear admirals including the commander of naval forces in Japan retired after the secretary of the Navy censured them for the Fat Leonard scandal.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016.

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