Navy captain latest to plead guilty in bribery scheme

SAN DIEGO — The former assistant chief of staff of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet admitted in federal court in San Diego Friday that he accepted bribes in the form of parties and prostitutes while sneaking proprietary information to foreign defense contractor Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis and his Singapore-based firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

U.S. Navy Capt. Jesus Vasquez Cantu, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery and is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 9 by U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino.

In his plea agreement, Cantu acknowledged that Francis took him and others out for drinks and dinners at posh restaurants, nightclubs and karaoke bars and paid for lavish hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes on numerous occasions in 2012 and 2013. Cantu admitted that he provided proprietary U.S. Navy information to Francis, and that he used his power and influence to help Francis and GDMA with their business.

Twenty-eight individuals, including 21 current and former Navy officials and five civilian defendants, plus GDMA, have been charged so far as part of the massive fraud and bribery investigation. Nineteen of those defendants have pleaded guilty and nine are awaiting trial.

“The number of U.S. Navy officials who participated in this conspiracy is astounding,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana Robinson. “Like so many others, this defendant (Cantu) sold out the Navy and his country for cocktails and karaoke. We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”

According to his plea agreement, Cantu served in the Navy until 2014. During the time he was accepting bribes from Francis in 2012 and 2013, Cantu was the deputy commander, Military Sealift Command Far East in Singapore. He oversaw the MSC ships that provided logistical sustainment to Navy ships operating in the Seventh Fleet.

Cantu also admitted that in 2007, when he was the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics for the Commander of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, he and others participated in a bribery conspiracy with Francis.

Cantu and other members of the conspiracy accepted more than $135,000 in meals, entertainment, travel and hotel expenses, and the services of prostitutes from Francis; in exchange, they worked together to help Francis as issues important to his business arose, prosecutors said.

Francis pleaded guilty in January 2015 to bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States and still awaits sentencing.