The Navy released more details Friday regarding the case of a retired admiral and onetime White House nominee who was censured last month for his role in the ongoing “Fat Leonard” scandal.
Retired Rear Adm. Mark C. Montgomery was censured by Navy Secretary Richard Spencer for his role in the western Pacific’s tawdry web of bribery and kickbacks orchestrated by the portly Leonard Glenn Francis, who steered Navy port service business to his Glenn Defense Marine Asia company.
Fat Leonard’s fraud cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $35 million and triggered federal charges and disciplinary actions against scores of retired and active-duty Navy leaders.
Montgomery’s infractions occurred from 2007 to 2009, while he served as the head of Destroyer Squadron 15, according to the censure letter.
It details several instances of wrongdoing by Montgomery, who was nominated by the White House to direct the U.S. Agency for International Development.
President Donald Trump’s administration withdrew the nomination a few days before the Navy announced Montgomery’s censure.
In addition to his past infractions, the letter states that in January Montgomery lied to investigators about his role in the Fat Leonard scandal.
At the time, Montgomery was working as the policy director for the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The censure letter cites communications between Montgomery and Francis about ship movement info the officer provided and kickbacks the Malaysian magnate provided in return.
After officials declined to let a firm controlled by Francis refuel two Navy vessels, Montgomery intervened on Aug. 23, 2007. Although several names are redacted in the censure letter, after Montgomery pushed the deal through, someone said, “top shelf friendship!! Ha Ha!!”
Montgomery “improperly endorsed” Francis and his company in an official message on Sept. 13, 2007, and less than a month later tipped him off that a Navy ship would soon make a port call in Malaysia, according to the censure letter.
As payback weeks later, Francis and his firm shelled out more than $2,600 so Montgomery and his family could stay in a Hong Kong hotel suite, the letter states.
In January 2008, Montgomery attended a dinner on the 45th floor of the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo, a feast funded by Francis and his firm, according to the letter.
That spring, Montgomery paid $450 for a stay at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, with Francis and his company picking up $2,260 of the tab.
“Days before that stay, on April 20, 2008, you provided Mr. Francis with more than five months advance notice that Navy ships would be visiting Cambodia and Vietnam,” the letter states.
Later that month, Montgomery helped Francis plan a dinner at Hong Kong’s Pierre II restaurant, racking up a $32,000 bill paid by Fat Leonard, according to the letter.
The Navy alleges that Montgomery slid Francis the names of eight other senior officers for an “inner circle” social when the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk was slated to pull into Hong Kong.
One of the invitees was Rear Adm. Richard Wren, who received his own letter of censure earlier this year in connection to the scandal.
Wren retired in 2011.
“You even signed your name on a commemorative menu,” Montgomery’s censure letter states.
The day after that April 2008 dinner, Montgomery provided a copy of the logistical requirements for the guided-missile destroyer Stethem’s port visit before its normal release date.
In December 2008, Montgomery accepted free transport and discounted lodging for a family vacation in Singapore and said he would be “thrilled” to take an upgrade, according to the letter.
In February 2009, Montgomery provided a Bravo Zulu letter on Destroyer Squadron 15 letterhead for use in Glenn Defense Marine Asia’s portfolio, the letter states.
In a written statement in January, Montgomery “categorically denied” several of the allegations, which the letter states were not credible given the evidence.
Montgomery could not be reached by Navy Times for comment.
“Your willingness to accept those gifts provided the worst type of example for subordinate officers within your chain of command and other officers who observed your interaction with Mr. Francis,” the letter states.
A copy of the censure letter will be placed in Montgomery’s official service record, and his end of tour award from his stint leading the destroyer squadron has been revoked.
Because the statute of limitations under the Uniform Code of Military Justice often has run on their cases, officials contend they have no tool left but censure to punish senior leaders tied to the Fat Leonard scandal.
“Your actions have cast a shadow over the reputation of all the outstanding men and women who served during your tenure in command,” the letter states.
Due to an editing mistake, a previous version of this story failed to indicate how the statute of limitations forces some criminal cases in the military to end. It was been corrected.
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.