A retired admiral who was nominated by President Trump for a leadership position with the U.S. Agency for International Development has become the latest senior Navy officer brought down by the “Fat Leonard” scandal.
Navy Secretary Richard Spencer issued a letter of censure to retired Rear Adm. Mark C. Montgomery this month, following a review of his interactions with “Fat Leonard” Glenn Francis and the corpulent Malaysian magnate’s ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, or GDMA.
Francis plied commanders and other key figures with cash, “Thai SEAL team” prostitutes, luxury resort rooms and other perks in order to bilk $35 million from American taxpayers before he was arrested in a federal sting operation in 2013.
At least nine Navy flag officers and captains have been censured for their roles in Fat Leonard public corruption scandal, according to records released by the Consolidated Disposition Authority.
A Navy review found that while serving as the head of Destroyer Squadron 15 in the Japan-based 7th Fleet from 2007 to 2009, Montgomery “repeatedly and improperly solicited and accepted gifts from Leonard Francis and GDMA,” Navy spokesman Cmdr. Jereal Dorsey said Monday.
During that same time, Montgomery endorsed GDMA multiple times, provided sensitive information to the company and took action to financially benefit the now-defunct contractor, which provided in-port services to Navy vessels, according to Dorsey.
“In light of the connections between the gifts (Montgomery) received and the actions he took, Secretary Spencer determined that he also committed the offense of graft,” Dorsey said in an email.
Montgomery also made a false official statement to investigators regarding his interactions with Francis and GDMA, Dorsey said.
Montgomery did not respond to requests for comment.
While helming Destroyer Squadron 15 and Task Group 75.4, he directed the Japan-based 7th Fleet’s destroyers and frigates and completed multiple deployments with the Kitty Hawk and George Washington Carrier Strike Groups, according to his official Navy biography.
The exact nature of Montgomery’s infractions remained unclear Monday but Dorsey indicated the letter of censure will be released at a later date.
The U.S. Justice Department is prosecuting the most serious allegations in the scandal and has passed hundreds of cases to the Navy’s Consolidated Disposition Authority for final adjudication.
Because the statute of limitations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice often has tolled on their cases, officials have said they turn to censuring senior leaders because have few other disciplinary options available to punish them.
The retired one-star left the Navy in 2017 and served as policy director for the Senate Armed Services Committee between September 2017 and September 2018, according to Montgomery’s LinkedIn profile.
Leacy Burke, a spokeswoman for Committee chairman Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, confirmed that Montgomery no longer works for the committee.
In a September statement to the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, Montgomery said that the late Sen. John McCain had recruited him to the committee post.
He was nominated by the White House this summer to be the assistant administrator for USAID’s Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.
The Trump administration notified the Senate that it was withdrawing that nomination on Nov. 15.
White House officials did not respond to questions regarding why Montgomery’s nomination was withdrawn.
Dorsey did not immediately answer questions regarding when the Senate committee or the White House were informed of Montgomery’s role in the Fat Leonard scandal.
Montgomery was selected as a White House fellow in 1998 and worked on the National Security Council to 2000, serving as a director for Transnational Threats.
For the final three years of his career, Montgomery was director of operations for U.S. Pacific Command.
“I feel very positive and very fortunate to have met all the people the military in general — and the Navy specifically — has introduced me to,” he said in a command profile at the time of his retirement.
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.