More than 60 admirals are being looked at for their part in the “Fat Leonard” scandal, double the number the Navy said were under investigation last year, The Washington Post reported this weekend.
The Navy is reviewing the behavior of 440 active-duty and retired Navy personnel that includes 60 current and retired admirals for possible military and federal violations that sprang forth from their dealings with the corpulent, 350-pound Leonard Glenn Francis and his Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia company.
Francis is accused of plying Navy officials with booze, prostitutes and lavish feasts in exchange for lucrative work supplying ships in ports throughout the west Pacific.
Known in the Navy by some as “Leonard the Legend,” Francis spent decades building relationships with officers who came to ignore his shady ways.
Even as Naval investigators delved into tips that he was receiving military secrets and inside information on contracts in exchange for the perks, Francie received VIP invites to ceremonies in Pearl Harbor and Annapolis, where he socialized with Navy leaders, according to the Post.
Francis was arrested in an international sting four years ago, and the U.S. Justice Department has gone on to file criminal charges against 28 people, including two admirals.
Officials told the Post that the cases have increased because the Justice Department handed over dossiers on people whose alleged infractions did not meet a civilian prosecution threshold, but who might have committed offenses that are prosecutable under the military justice system.
While the Post brought the long-simmering corruption into public view, the Navy has kept details of who did what largely out of the public eye.
The service has thus far identified only 10 of the 440 people under military investigation, and has offered little about their ties to Francis, according to the Post.
Officials have said that revealing names or more information could violate privacy rights or compromise cases.
The Navy has charged five people with military justice violations, the Post reports, but no admirals.
Forty other people have been found to have committed violations of ethics rules and other regulations, but their cases have been handled administratively, according to the Post.
The Navy has been limited in taking action in some instances because the military statute of limitations had expired.
A Navy official told the Post that the oldest matter reviewed so far went back to 1992, with most alleged infractions taking place between 2004 and 2010.
An official said the Navy has concluded that 230 people were not guilty of misconduct, about half of those under review, according to the Post.
Some had minimal or no contact with Francis, while others attended dinner or got gifts that were explained by extenuating circumstances.
Francis, 53, pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing “scores” of Navy officials and cheating the sea service out of more than $35 million.
He awaits sentencing in federal court and is in jail in San Diego, according to the Post.
His overbilling of the Navy was apparently an open secret for years, and prompted a host of fraud complaints dating back to 2006 that led the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to open more than 24 investigations into his company, the Post reports.
NCIS kicked its efforts into a higher gear starting in 2009, when it assigned more agents to look into Francis.
It later launched a full corruption probe after suspecting that Navy officials were providing Francis with inside dirt on defense contracts and giving him military secrets, according to the Post.