A retired U.S. Navy chief was sentenced to more than two years in prison Friday, the latest sailor to fall in the cascading western Pacific web of bribery and kickbacks known as the “Fat Leonard” scandal, which cost the Navy roughly $35 million.
In addition to spending 27 months in prison, Brooks Alonzo Parks will have to pay roughly $25,400 in restitution after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery earlier this year, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California.
Parks, 48, pleaded guilty to conspiring with Malaysian defense magnate “Fat Leonard” Glenn Francis and employees of his port services company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, to get hooked up with free luxury hotel accommodations, travel expenses and other items. In return he fast-tracked invoices and provided inside information on future Navy ship port visits, including tips about competitors and pricing, to help GDMA win lucrative contracts to provide support services to U.S. Navy ships docked in Asian ports, according to an Attorney’s Office news release.
Parks was a logistics lead petty officer in U.S. 7th Fleet from 2005 to 2009, according to the release, and helped manage the command’s logistics support budget, where he signed and processed invoices.
From 2006 to 2008, Francis paid for tens of thousands of dollars' worth of hotel accommodations and other gifts for Parks and his buddies, prosecutors wrote in Parks' sentencing memo last month.
“It feels good living like a KING on an E-6′s salary!!!” Parks emailed to Francis' brother, Andre Francis, after GDMA paid for high-end suites for Parks, a friend and their girlfriends in 2006.
“I appreciate you supplying us with rooms and a driver,” Parks wrote. “We wouldn’t be able to afford this with our salaries (LOL).”
While dozens have been charged in connection to the Fat Leonard scandal, Parks' case stands out for his “overt, insatiable greed,” prosecutors wrote.
“Parks was an equal aggressor, actively demanding ever nicer, more luxurious bribes and complaining (at best) and insinuating retribution (at worst) when he felt what was offered was not sufficiently lavish,” prosecutors wrote.
Parks' taste for a Fat Leonard-funded high life increased over the years, prosecutors wrote.
In early 2007, ahead of a Hong Kong port visit by the 7th Fleet flagship Blue Ridge, he emailed Andre Francis again and asked about getting a suite and executive room totaling about $3,400, prosecutors wrote.
When offered a standard room at a different hotel, Parks replied, "I’d like something a lot nicer.”
Parks' demands increased and GDMA officials increasingly wondered whether the E-6 was worth the cost, according to prosecutors.
“The (GDMA) bug has bitten the (expletive) out of me,” Parks wrote in 2007.
Parks hassled GDMA officials for a case of “White Hennessey” several times throughout the conspiracy, according to court records.
“Brotha’s, can you please follow up on the White Hennessy for me??? Pleeeeeease,” Banks wrote in June 2008, and a case of the high-end cognac was delivered to Park’s house in Japan a few months later.
But by October 2008, “GDMA determined that Parks was not delivering sufficient value, particularly to withstand the incessant badgering,” prosecutors wrote.
When Parks emailed a company official about needing “a big favor” in the form of a deluxe Singapore suite for an upcoming vacation, an official forwarded along the request to a colleague and wrote, “never gives up,” according to court records.
Parks made chief in 2011 while assigned to Afloat Training Group West Pacific in Japan.
He reported to the Naval Supply Systems Fleet Logistics Center in Naples, Italy, in 2013, and retired in 2016, according to his service record.
Parks' attorney, Troy Owens, said in an email to Navy Times that “we completely understand that a price must be paid for prior bad acts, but do not believe that sufficient weight was given to (Parks') current situation.”
Owens said his client suffers from medical conditions that will make him more vulnerable to COVID-19 in prison.
In a defense sentencing memo filed last month, Owens called Parks “a loving family man, and a man of resilience.”
Owens also argued that Parks “was a small part of the overall conspiracy” that has snagged dozens of commissioned officers during the still-unfolding Fat Leonard scandal.
Parks was also “mocked and ridiculed” by GDMA personnel in emails, Owens wrote.
“Leonard Francis also joked and said that he should stay at the YMCA,” the attorney wrote. “There were suggestions to ‘throw him a bone with no meat.’ And Leonard Francis himself asked his team if Mr. Parks was even worth the investment. Mr. Parks was a nobody to them.”
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to fraud and bribery charges, admitting that he oversaw a sprawling, decade-long scheme that roped in dozens of Navy officials who accepted millions of dollars in bribes on everything from luxury travel accommodations to cash and prostitutes. The scheme cost the Navy about $35 million.
To date, 34 defendants have been charged and 23 have pleaded guilty in federal court for their role in the Fat Leonard scandal, which saw Francis and his company ply officers with perks in exchange for help in getting GDMA lucrative in-port service contracts across Asia.
The Justice Department also handed hundreds of other cases back to the Navy to decide whether discipline is necessary.
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.