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Navy commander guilty of obstructing Fat Leonard investigation

An active-duty U.S. Navy commander pleaded guilty Tuesday for helping a Singapore-based defense contractor cheat the Navy and obstructing a federal criminal investigation into the overbilling fraud.

Bobby Pitts, 48, of Chesapeake, Virginia is set to be sentenced on December 1 in federal court in San Diego.

He obstructed an NCIS investigation of Leonard Glenn Francis, 51, the owner and CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). 

From 2009 to mid 2011, Pitts served as the officer in charge of the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC) in Singapore. He directed the logistical needs of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

The DOJ’s May 2016 indictment against Pitts alleged that in exchange for entertainment, meals, and the services of a prostitute, he used his position to interfere with NCIS investigations into GDMA.

According to his plea Tuesday to a single count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, Pitts learned that NCIS and several civilian employees of the U.S. Navy were investigating whether Francis — also known as Fat Leonard — was over-billing the U.S. Navy on ship husbanding contracts.

He gave Francis a hard copy of an NCIS report detailing the investigation into contract fraud marked “for official use only.” The report identified witnesses and gave the content of their testimony.

Pitts also admitted he worked with Francis to cover up GDMA’s overcharges to the U.S. Navy.

In November 2010, Pitts gave GDMA an internal U.S. Navy email about FISC’s plan to contact officials with the Royal Thai Navy to find what services it received from GDMA. FISC suspected GDMA had billed the U.S. Navy instead of the Thai government for those services.

So far, 18 of 27 defendants charged in the bribery and fraud scandal have pleaded guilty.

Last Friday, two Singaporeans who worked for Francis were sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to fraud.

Neil Peterson, 40, the former vice president for global operations at Glenn Defense Marine Asia, was sentenced in San Diego federal court to 70 months.

Linda Raja, 45. GDMA’s general manager for Singapore, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, was sentenced to 46 months.

They admitted submitting bogus bids, phony claims, and inflated invoices to the U.S. Navy.

Francis pleaded guilty in federal court in San Diego to bribing dozens of Navy officials. He’s waiting to be sentenced.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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