Marine Corps colonel admits to bribery charge in ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A U.S. Marine Corps colonel pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge Friday for accepting more than $67,000 in gifts in exchange for providing assistance to foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis and his ship husbanding company.

Enrico DeGuzman, 63, of Las Vegas, admitted in San Diego federal court that in exchange for lavish meals and hotel stays in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo, he used his position to assist Francis’ Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said DeGuzman sought to influence Navy ships into ports serviced by Francis’ company, shared confidential information with Francis and helped him “with evaluating and indoctrinating potential new Navy members into Francis’ cabal.”

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribery and fraud charges for providing a plethora of gifts to U.S. Navy officials, including travel accommodations, hotel stays, alcohol, prostitutes, Cuban cigars and more, in exchange for directing contracts toward his firm and providing him with confidential information on Navy operations and personnel. He has not been sentenced.

DeGuzman served as the Fleet Marine Officer for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet and was the second of nine indicted members of the Seventh Fleet to plead guilty this week, following retired Navy officer Robert Gorsuch, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

More than two dozen other people have also pleaded guilty in the case, while the other Seventh Fleet members are slated to go to trial early next year.

Prosecutors say DeGuzman’s plea agreement outlines several expensive meals and hotel stays he enjoyed at Francis’ expense.

On one occasion at the Shangri-La Hotel in Singapore, Francis racked up around $50,000 in hotel expenses for DeGuzman and others.

Later that year in Tokyo, DeGuzman attended a multi-course dinner hosted by Francis at the Oak Door restaurant, during which attendees were photographed wearing custom-made neckties bearing GDMA, to denote Francis’ company.

Upon being assigned to another post, DeGuzman told Francis in an email that “[U]nfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be able to influence people [in my next assignment] like I did there at 7th Fleet.”

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