The Navy has charged two more active-duty officers in the ever-expanding “Fat Leonard” scandal, bringing the total number of officers awaiting court-martial in the case to five.
The scope of the Fat Leonard scandal expanded beyond previous estimates this month when the Navy confirmed it is still investigating about 190 current and retired Navy personnel — mostly officers — to determine what role they may have played in the scandal and whether disciplinary measures are warranted.
The corruption centers around a 350-pound Malaysian businessman named Leonard Glenn Francis — widely known among Navy officers as “Fat Leonard” — and his Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia company, which provided resupply services to Navy ships in Asia.
Now awaiting trial is Capt. John F. Steinberger, a surface warfare officer currently assigned to the Navy’s Undersea Warfare Development Center Detachment in San Diego. He faces charges and multiple specifications of conspiracy, conduct unbecoming, graft and bribery. He was charged Oct. 13, has waived an Article 32 hearing and now awaits a court-martial date.
The charge sheet obtained by Navy Times also states that Steinberger, who was then the commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, embarked on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, allegedly conspired with Francis “and others” between January 2011 and April 2012 to “bribe other Navy officials” in an attempt to influence what ports U.S. Navy ships visited.
Francis was trying to help his company to secure lucrative U.S. Navy contracts to provide various resupply services and supplies to those Navy ships while in port.
In addition, Steinberger also allegedly provided Francis with “information about Glenn Defense Marine Asia’s competitors performance in the region.” The charges allege that on multiple occasions, Steinberger’s payment for his services to Francis came in the form of “discounted and free hotel rooms, food, beverages and the services of prostitutes.”
Steinberger, a native of Mountainview, California, is the former commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Decatur and served as executive officer of the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill.
The Navy also charged Chief Warrant Officer 4 Brian T. Ware on Aug. 11, who is a Navy food service officer currently on board the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan. He is a native of Sedgwick, Kansas.
The Navy charge sheets allege Ware committed multiple offenses by soliciting and accepting gifts over a three-year period, during which he was assigned first to the command ship Blue Ridge and later on the carrier George Washington.
In exchange for “lodging, transportation and the use of cellular phones, constituting a total gift value of over $1,000,” the charge sheet said that Ware allegedly participated in fraudulent contracting practices for food and other supplies being provided by Glenn Defense Marine Asia.
As with Steinberger, Ware, too, waived his right to an Article 32 hearing and is awaiting a court-martial date. Navy officials don’t expect any of the trials to start until sometime next spring.
Mark D. Faram is a former reporter for Navy Times. He was a senior writer covering personnel, cultural and historical issues. A nine-year active duty Navy veteran, Faram served from 1978 to 1987 as a Navy Diver and photographer.