Retired Navy officer admits taking bribes in exchange for privileged information

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A retired U.S. Navy chief warrant officer involved in the wide-ranging “Fat Leonard” bribery scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges for taking more than $45,000 in bribes from the disgraced foreign defense contractor.

Robert Gorsuch, 54, admitted in San Diego federal court that he gave Leonard Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis privileged information, including multiple classified ship schedules, in exchange for stays at fancy hotels, meals, entertainment and other gifts.

Gorsuch was one of nine members of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet indicted for accepting bribes to help Francis and his Singapore-based ship husbanding company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, by providing his company an edge over its competitors.

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.

Though Gorsuch is the first of the Seventh Fleet defendants to plead guilty, more than two dozen other people have pleaded guilty in the case thus far. The other Seventh Fleet members are slated to go to trial this November.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Gorsuch served as the fleet’s Flag Administration Officer, providing administrative support to its commander, department heads and other senior officers.

Among the bribes he received from Francis were:

  • An all-expenses paid party at the Manila Hotel in Manila, Philippines, for which Francis paid expenses totaling around $15,000;
  • A stay at the Shangri-La Hotel in Cebu, Philippines;
  • A stay at the Shangri-La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
  • A meal at Altitude Shangri-La in Sydney, Australia and;
  • A two-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Toyko.

In return, Gorsuch sent Francis disks containing the Seventh Fleet’s classified ship schedules, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“Gorsuch essentially sold his honor for a few nights at the Shangri- La,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman, who said the former officer “sacrificed his integrity for so little and caused so much harm in the process.”

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