Two Navy officers charged in the “Fat Leonard” scandal will face courts-martial hearings Tuesday in separate courtrooms on Naval Base Norfolk, in Virginia.
Capt. John F. Steinberger and Cmdr. Jason W. Starmer are both slated to have their cases heard at a general court-martial, according to the court docket for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic.
The scandal gets it’s name from a 6′3″ tall and 350-pound Malaysian businessman named Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” who ran Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a Singapore-based company that provided resupply and port services to Navy ships in Asia and 7th Fleet. Francis admitted last year to bilking the Navy for $35 million, but has yet to be sentenced.
Steinberger is the most senior officer yet to be charged by the Navy in a military court for alleged misconduct linked to Fat Leonard. He faces charges of conspiracy, violation of a lawful order, conduct unbecoming as well as graft and bribery.
Steinberger is a surface warfare officer currently assigned to the Navy’s Undersea Warfare Development Center Detachment in San Diego and the former commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer Decatur. He also served as executive officer of the guided-missile cruiser Bunker Hill.
At the time of the alleged offenses, Steinberger was the commander of Destroyer Squadron 1, embarked on the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson. The Navy alleges he 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.
Starmer is a former enlisted sailor who at the time of the allegations against him was head of operations for the Joint United States Military Advisory Group, Thailand.
A foreign area officer, Starmer was charged at an Article 32 hearing on Aug. 30 with graft, patronizing a prostitute, adultery and conduct unbecoming, as well as three specifications of violating a lawful order.
The court docket says that Starmer is appearing for a motion hearing in his case. It is unclear, yet, what motions will be heard.
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.