Navy officer gets prison in bribery case

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SAN DIEGO — A once-highly regarded Navy officer who accepted bribes, including the services of prostitutes, from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for confidential military information was sentenced in San Diego Thursday to 2 1/2 years in prison.

Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino to pay a $15,000 fine and $37,000 in restitution to the Navy.

Debord pleaded guilty last October to a bribery charge in the wide-ranging corruption case, which has resulted in charges against more than a dozen defendants, most of whom have entered guilty pleas.

Sammartino told the 41-year-old defendant — who was named U.S. Navy Supply Officer of the Year while enmeshed in his corrupt dealings with Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis — that he had given his allegiance to his co- conspirators instead of to his country’s military.

“You were clearly on their team and not the Navy’s team,” the judge said.

Debord admitted that he accepted cash, luxury hotel stays and sex-industry services from Francis over a six-year period in return for proprietary Navy information that benefitted Francis’ company, Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

Debord was such an enthusiastic participant in the scheme that GDMA executives described him as “over the moon” about the illicit arrangements and joked that he had swallowed their bribes “hook, line and sinker,” according to instant messages quoted in his plea agreement.

From November 2007 to January 2013, Debord provided Francis and others with internal Navy information; directed Francis and GDMA to inflate invoices to reflect services not actually rendered; advocated for the Navy to procure items from the company under its husbanding contracts; and otherwise used his position and influence to advocate for and advance GDMA’s interests, court documents state.

Debord, Francis and others sought to conceal the nature and extent of their relationship by, among other things, using fictitious email accounts to communicate and employing coded language and designed to obscure the true nature of their corrupt relationship, including referring to prostitutes as “cheesecakes” and “bodyguards.”

In early 2008, Debord emailed a GDMA executive to ask him to provide with paid sex services during a visit by the USS Essex to Manila.

Part of the message stated that Debord was “checking to see if I will have my security … . I however do not want anyone to know I have a bodyguard.” The recipient responded: “Bodyguards are standing by.”

About eight months later, Debord emailed GDMA executives, advising them that the Navy’s ship-husbanding contract in the Philippines was up for renewal and asking that the firm provide him with an apartment for an upcoming port visit by the amphibious assault ship to Hong Kong.

Debord noted that he and another GDMA employee “had fun” during the Philippines port stop, “ate lots of cheesecake” and “even ate some in a group session.”

In February 2010, Debord asked a GDMA executive to provide him with three hotel rooms, two cellphones, a van and $2,000 worth of Singapore money. He instructed the executive to recover the value of the items by inflating the amount that the company would charge the Navy for potable water and trash removal for a visit to Singapore the Essex made the prior year.

Francis approved the payment to Debord as instructed, court papers show.

A total of 16 people have been charged in the case. Most are current or former Navy officials, including John Beliveau, an agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service; retired Capt. Michael Brooks; Debord; Capt. Daniel Dusek; Adm. Robert Gilbeau, who is believed to be the first active-duty U.S. Navy flag officer charged in a federal criminal case; Petty Officer First Class Daniel Layug; Lt. Cmdr. Todd Malaki; Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz; Cmdr. Bobby Pitts; and Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez.

Also charged was Paul Simpkins, a former Department of Defense civilian employee who oversaw contracting in Singapore.

Among the defendants, Beliveau, Brooks, Debord, Dusek, Gilbeau, Layug, Malaki, Misiewicz, Sanchez and Simpkins have entered guilty pleas.

Last January, Layug was sentenced to 27 months in prison, and Malaki was sentenced to a 40-month term. Two months later, Dusek was sentenced to 46 months behind bars. In April, a judge ordered Misiewicz to serve 78 months in custody.

Beliveau was sentenced in October to 12 years in prison, and Simpkins received a 72-month term in December. Brooks, Gilbeau and Sanchez are awaiting sentencing.

Pitts, who was charged in the case last May, is awaiting trial.

Also charged in the case are five GDMA executives. Three of them — Francis, Ed Aruffo and Alex Wisidagama — have pleaded guilty. The latter was sentenced last spring to 63 months in prison.

Francis and Aruffo are awaiting sentencing, and the prosecutions of the other two, Neil Peterson and Linda Raja, are ongoing.