U.S. Rear Admiral Pleads Guilty in Navy Bribery and Fraud Case

Rear Adm. Robert Gilbeau

U.S. Navy Admiral Pleads Guilty to Lying to Federal Investigators about His Relationship with Foreign Defence Contractor in Massive Navy Bribery and Fraud Investigation.

It's believed to be the first time an active-duty U.S. Navy flag officer has been charged with a crime in federal court. On Thursday, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau pleaded guilty to a felony charge of lying to federal investigators about his extensive relationship with a foreign defence contractor who's at the heart of a sweeping bribery and fraud scandal. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The Department of Justice provides these details:

"In his plea agreement, Admiral Gilbeau admitted that he lied when he told agents from Defence Criminal Investigative Service and Naval Criminal Investigative Service that he had never received any gifts from Leonard Glenn Francis, owner of Singapore-based Glenn Defence Marine Asia. Francis has pleaded guilty to plying scores of other U.S. Navy officials with gifts such as luxury travel and meals, cash and electronics and and parties and prostitutes."

Rear Admiral Robert J. Gilbeau, left, enters a federal courthouse in San Diego where he pleaded guilty to lying to federal investigators in the "Fat Leonard" navy bribery trial.

According to the Justice Department, Gilbeau admitted he lied when he told agents from the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) that he had never received any gifts from Francis, the owner of Singapore-based GDMA. Gilbeau also admitted he lied in telling investigators that he “always paid for half of the dinner” when he and Francis met about three times a year, according to Justice. The one-star admiral further admitted that when he became aware that Francis and others had been arrested in connection with the fraud and bribery offences in September 2013, he destroyed documents and deleted computer files.

Francis previously pleaded guilty to plying scores of other US Navy officials with gifts such as luxury travel, meals, cash, electronics, parties and prostitutes.

Francis, the defence contractor in the case, is nicknamed "Fat Leonard. His ties to high-ranking Navy officials were publicly exposed in the autumn of 2013, and in November of that year, the Navy stripped two top naval intelligence officers — Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless — of the privilege to see classified material.

As NPR's Scott Neuman reported about that development:

"The move follows the arrest of a third officer in the growing bribery scandal that allegedly involves delivering classified and other sensitive material to Glenn Defence Marine, which resupplies and services Navy ships in Asia. In exchange, the officers allegedly were provided with prostitutes, luxury travel and cash, according to prosecutors."

So far, the case has resulted in 11 current or former U.S. Navy officials facing charges. Gilbeau now becomes the seventh of that group to plead guilty. And he supplants Capt. Daniel Dusek, the former deputy director of operations for the Navy's 7th Fleet, as the highest-ranking officer to plead guilty. In March, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months in prison and ordered to pay $30,000 in restitution and a $70,000 fine.

Francis and two other executives from the Singapore-based Glenn Defence Marine Asia have pleaded guilty in the case; one of them, Alex Wisidagama was sentenced in March to 63 months in prison and payment of $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy.

Last note: In a plea agreement with prosecutors, Gilbeau agreed to pay $50,000 in restitution to the Navy as well as a $100,000 fine, said Kelly Thornton, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in San Diego. He also faces up to five years in prison, although prosecutors have agreed to seek a sentence of 12 to 18 months, she said. He was released Thursday on $75,000 bail and his sentencing date was set for Aug. 26.

Source: US Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs.

US dept of justice

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