Despite multiple top officers in the U.S. Navy pleading guilty to corruption, they’ll still be receiving benefits paid for by U.S. taxpayers.
According to the Washington Post, seven Naval officers have plead guilty to charges in the “Fat Leonard” bribery scheme, in what may be the biggest corruption case the Navy has seen so far.
In June, Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau became the first active-duty Navy admiral in modern history to be convicted of a felony. He faces sentencing in April, and could serve up to five years in federal prison for his crimes. Gilbeau is one of seven current or former Navy officers who pleaded guilty in a massive corruption and bribery scandal. However, the Post reports that all seven participants in the scheme are still eligible for generous retirement benefits, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers.
The charges stem from a scheme in which Leonard Glenn Francis — a Singapore-based defense contractor colloquially referred to as “Fat Leonard” — initially pleaded guilty to bribing “scores” of Navy officials with prostitutes, cash, hedonistic parties and other gifts. In exchange, federal prosecutors stated the Navy officers provided Francis with classified or inside information that enabled his firm, Glenn Marine Defense Asia, to bilk tens of millions of dollars out of the U.S. Navy.
Over the course of a decade, Glenn Defense ripped off the Navy with little fear of getting caught because of Francis’ connections with high-level officials. The Post reported Francis and his firm have admitted to defrauding the Navy of $35 million, though the real amount could be much greater, according to investigators. His arrest exposed a staggering degree of corruption emerging within the Navy three years later, prompting the arrest and eventual convictions of Rear Admiral Gilbeau and his co-conspirators.
Today, the Navy remains in the grip of overlapping civilian and military investigations that are slowly unraveling long patterns of misconduct. So far, four Navy officers, an enlisted sailor and a senior agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have pleaded guilty to federal crimes and are already behind bars or are facing prison time.
Steven E. Johnson is a Mississippi-based author who covers racial justice and political issues for the Resistance Report. You can contact him at stevejlive at gmail dot com.