Retired US Navy captain sentenced in ‘Fat Leonard’ case

WASHINGTON — A retired US Navy Captain and former naval attaché was sentenced to three and a half years in prison on Friday for his role in the massive “Fat Leonard” bribery scandal that has engulfed 20 current and former Navy officials.

Michael Brooks, who served as the US Naval Attaché at the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines from 2006 to 2008, admitted to using his influence to benefit former defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis in exchange for “bribes of travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes,” the Justice Department said.

He pleaded guilty in November 2016 to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and has been ordered to pay a $41,000 fine and $31,000 in restitution to the Navy, in addition to his prison sentence.

Specifically, Brooks, 59, said he assisted Francis, the former CEO of Singapore-based defense contractor Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) by “securing quarterly clearances for GDMA vessels,” which allowed them “to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the US Embassy,” according to the US Justice Department.

“Neither GDMA nor any other defense contractor has ever been granted such unfettered clearances,” the Justice Department said in a press release.

Francis, nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” allegedly used his connections with the Navy’s Seventh Fleet in Asia to cheat the service out of millions of dollars and in the process ensnared several senior naval officers in the bribery scheme. Francis pleaded guilty to bribery charges in 2015.

Francis’ company provided services to Navy ships including fuel and tugboats.

Multiple Navy officials have been arrested and accused of accepting cash, prostitutes and all-expenses-paid trips in exchange for steering ships to ports where Francis’ company operated.

According to the Justice Department “Brooks also admitted that he allowed Francis to ghostwrite official US Navy documents, which Brooks submitted as his own.” They also said he shared sensitive internal US Navy information.

This included Navy ship schedules and billing information belonging to a GDMA competitor.

Twenty current and former Navy officials have been charged so far in the fraud and bribery investigation since it began to unfold in 2013.

Ten of those individuals have pleaded guilty and 10 cases are pending, according to the Justice Department.

Five GDMA executives and GDMA the corporation have also pleaded guilty in connection to the case.