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Navy officer pleads guilty in Fat Leonard case

A U.S. Navy lieutenant commander pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal bribery charge for taking cash, luxury hotel stays, and prostitutes from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for proprietary Navy information.

Gentry Debord, 41, is based in Singapore. He pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego.

Sentencing is set for January 13 next year.

Debord served in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific.

He told Glenn Defense Marina Asia (GDMA) executives to inflate their invoices to the Navy to cover the cost of the bribes.

From November 2007 to January 2013, Debord passed “internal and proprietary” U.S. Navy information to GDMA CEO Leonard Glenn Francis.

Francis, 51, is a Malaysian who’s also known as “Fat Leonard.” He has already pleaded guilty to bribing scores of U.S. Navy officials with travel, meals, cash, electronics, parties, and prostitutes.

Debold gave Francis details about competitors’ bids and about an investigation into GDMA’s billing practices. 

Debord approved inflated invoices he told Francis to submit for services never rendered.

He used code words with Francis, referring to prostitutes as “cheesecake” or “bodyguards.” 

Debord asked a GDMA executive to provide him with three hotel rooms, two cell phones, a van, and Singapore currency equivalent to about $1,500.

He told the executive to inflate invoices to the Navy for drinking water and trash removal service for the U.S.S. Essex during a port visit to Singapore.

Debord also asked GDMA executives to provide him with an apartment for a port visit.

In total, sixteen defendants have been charged in the scandal.

Of those, 11 are current or former U.S. Navy officials.

Nine defendants have now pleaded guilty. Four have been sentenced to terms in federal prison ranging from about two years to more than six years.

In June, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty to lying to investigators and destroying evidence in the Fat Leonard case. He’s the highest-ranking U.S. Navy officer to be charged in the case,

Three other rear admirals including the commander of naval forces in Japan retired last year 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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