Navy Secretary Richard Spencer has issued letters of censure to three officers for their roles in the “Fat Leonard” scandal, a web of bribery, kickbacks and classified info leaks that took place over more than a decade and ensnared scores of Navy officers.
Of the three officers censured on June 14, Capt. Charles A. Johnson is the only one still on active duty.
The letter slams Johnson for committing graft and lying to investigators regarding his relationship with Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis, the portly magnate of the in-port serving company Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA.
Navy officials said they are reviewing what administrative action, if any, will be taken against Johnson.
He went on to command Destroyer Squadron 31 and is currently stationed with Navy Region Hawaii.
Johnson, who declined comment via a command spokesman, engaged in Fat Leonard-related wrongdoings from 2004 to 2010, according to the letter.
“You and Francis had become Facebook friends,” the letter states. “A GDMA employee had referred to you internally as ‘in (Mr. Francis’) pocket.’”
While serving as commanding officer of the destroyer McCampbell, Johnson solicited a free Francis-funded dinner for himself and his command’s department heads during a 2009 port call in Australia, the letter states.
Johnson pitched that free dinner as a chance for GDMA to “indoctrinate” junior officers in Francis’ “way of doing business before they make XO,” according to the letter.
He later took his executive officer and junior officer department heads to a Francis-funded dinner.
“This action marks another instance in which you committed the offense of graft, as you received the gift of a dinner in recognition of performing a service for the benefit of GDMA by arranging an opportunity for its representatives to ‘indoctrinate’ your subordinate officers,” the letter states.
Johnson attended another Francis-funded dinner at an Australian restaurant that year, and disgraced the service by getting wasted, according to the letter.
“A GDMA employee later told Mr. Francis by email that you were ‘blasted’ and that you finished the restaurant’s last bottle of a certain kind of liquor ‘on the spot,’” the letter states.
While renewing his security clearance in 2014, Johnson failed to note his relationship with Francis, the letter states.
When Johnson was the readiness officer for Carrier Strike Group 5 in 2006, Francis and his company paid more than $6,000 for the officer’s wetting down party to celebrate a promotion.
In return, Johnson shared a GDMA force protection marketing CD with two force readiness officers, and shared official information with Francis, according to the letter.
Johnson also accepted other free dinners, a chocolate and fruit gift basket and two elephant vases from Francis and GDMA, the letter states.
Retired Rear Adm. Richard Wren also received a letter of censure this month for transgressions that took place from 2007 to 2010 while serving in leadership positions that included commander of Carrier Strike Group 5 and U.S. Naval Forces Japan.
Wren took a bevy of gifts from Francis and his company over the years and lied to investigators in 2015 about being personally invited to a dinner by Francis, according to the letter.
Those kickbacks included an $8,827 dinner in Japan in 2008 for Wren, Francis and one other GDMA employee, the letter states.
A few months later, Wren attended another dinner in Hong Kong with Francis and eight other officers, including some senior officers from his staff, that ran up a $32,422 food and drink tab for which Wren paid nothing, according to the letter.
Later that year, Wren accepted “two boxes of steaks, a bag full of wine and cigars, and three bottles of Dom Perignon” from Francis and his company, the letter states.
After assuming command of Naval Forces Japan in late 2009, Wren accepted a $2,000 box of steaks from Francis, according go the letter.
Wren could not be reached for comment.
Retired Capt. Timothy Conroy was the third censured this month.
The aviator was hired for a civilian job by the Navy just a few months after investigators interviewed him for at least the second time in 2016.
Francis pleaded guilty in federal court in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges in connection to a conspiracy that spanned more than a decade and involved scores of Navy officials, and millions of dollars in fraud, bribes and gifts, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
He supplied Navy officials with gifts and expenses in return for classified and confidential information regarding ship schedules, and overbilled for goods and services, receiving preferential treatment for his company in the contracting process, according to the department.
The Justice Department is prosecuting the highest-level cases and has referred hundreds of other cases back to the Navy for adjudication.
Some have gone to court-martial while others have ended with letters of censure.
In some cases, wrongdoing has been substantiated but officers have been allowed to stay in command.
Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.