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Navy lawyers want change of venue in ‘Fat Leonard’ case

Navy prosecutors are seeking to move the location of a court-martial of a Navy commander charged in the Glenn Defense Marine Asia “Fat Leonard” scandal from Norfolk, Virginia, to San Diego, California.

The judge did not immediately rule on the Feb. 23 request, but is expected to make a decision on the case sometime in the near future. No date has been set for the trial to begin.

The Navy named Adm. Phil Davidson as the head of Fleet Forces Command, the convening authority for all Navy prosecutions related to the scandal, making Norfolk the default location for all trials.

But sources familiar with the situation say that moving the trial to San Diego will make it easier for the government to call witnesses, such as Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis himself, who is currently incarcerated in California.

Francis pleaded guilty in January 2015 to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

He has yet to be sentenced and has agreed to cooperate with the government, meaning he could possibly be brought in to testify.

The Navy has charged at least five officers so far in the case, including Morales. Only one case has gone to trial.

Warrant Officer Brian Ware was charged with committing multiple offenses by soliciting and accepting gifts over a three-year period.

Ware pleaded guilty Jan. 11 in a military courtroom in Norfolk. He is currently serving a six-month sentence in a Navy brig and must pay a $10,000 fine.

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