A retired U.S. Marine Corps colonel implicated in the so-called “Fat Leonard” scandal pleaded guilty Friday to accepting more than $67,000 in hotel stays, extravagant meals and other perks, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Southern California.
Enrico DeGuzman, 63, was indicted in 2017 with eight other officers for allegedly accepting kickbacks as part of a scheme spearheaded by “Fat Leonard” Glenn Francis, a magnate who owned Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a company that raked in lucrative port servicing contracts from the Navy while plying officers in the West Pacific with luxury hotel stays, meals, prostitutes and other perks.
DeGuzman pleaded guilty to a charge of bribery of a public official and admitted to sharing confidential information on ship movements with Francis while helping with “evaluating and indoctrinating potential new Navy members into Francis’s cabal,” the attorney’s office said in a statement announcing the guilty plea.
Among the infractions DeGuzman admitted to as part of his plea agreement, he copped to attending a Francis-funded $20,000 dinner at Petrus Restaurant in Hong Kong during a 2006 port visit, and getting fake receipts from Francis “to conceal and cover up their corrupt relationship,” the attorney’s office said.
His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
DeGuzman served as fleet marine officer on the staff of the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet from July 2004 to July 2007, according to the attorney’s office.
In a July 2007 email as he left his 7th Fleet assignment, DeGuzman warned Francis in an email that, “unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to influence people [in my next assignment] like I did there at 7th Fleet,” according to the attorney’s office.
DeGuzman faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“With every extravagant meal, Enrico DeGuzman violated his duty to serve the United States with honor and integrity,” said acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman in a statement. “Today those choices have caught up to him, and he has been held accountable.”
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges, admitting that he presided over a massive conspiracy involving his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts — from cash to booze-soaked parties, luxury travel, prostitutes and Spanish suckling pigs.
Chief Warrant Officer Robert Gorsuch was indicted with DeGuzman and several others back in 2017 and pleaded guilty to similar bribery charges last week.
Meanwhile, seven others indicted with them await their day in court.
They are retired Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless, Captains David Newland, James Dolan, Donald Hornbeck and David Lausman, Cmdr. Mario Herrera and Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shedd. All have pleaded not guilty.
Their trial was slated to commence on Nov. 1 but has been pushed back to February, according to the attorney’s office.
So far 27 have pleaded guilty, “admitting that they collectively accepted millions of dollars in luxury travel and accommodations, meals or services of prostitutes from Francis in exchange for helping GDMA win and maintain contracts and overbill the Navy by over $35 million,” the prosecutor’s office said in its release announcing Gorsuch’s guilty plea.
The Justice Department passed hundreds of lower-level cases back to the Navy for adjudication — including some involving 60 admirals — but Navy officials have declined to say how those cases were adjudicated, citing “the ongoing nature of the investigation.”
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.