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Navy May Move ‘Fat Leonard’ Court-Martial To San Diego

U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visits Pyongtaek, Republic of...

Credit: U.S. Navy

Above: U.S. 7th Fleet Flagship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) visits Pyongtaek, Republic of Korea in this undated photo. U.S. Navy officers who had previously served on the USS Blue Ridge have since been caught up in the ongoing Fat Leonard corruption investigation.

San Diego could see even more cases from the Navy’s Fat Leonard bribery scandal.

Navy prosecutors in Norfolk, Virginia asked a judge Monday to move the case of Cmdr. David Morales to San Diego. The military judge took the request under advisement, according to a spokesperson at Navy Fleet Forces. Morales is the first officer to go to trial before a military court in the wide-ranging Navy corruption scandal, involving defense contractor Leonard Francis.

Moving the case to San Diego would give prosecutors easy access to key witnesses, such as Francis.

A steady stream of Naval officers has been found guilty in federal court in San Diego, since the man they call Fat Leonard was arrested here in 2013. Nearly five years later, the government continues to accuse more Naval officers of taking bribes in exchange for steering Navy ships to his ports.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015. His sentencing has been postponed several times and is now set for June 15 in San Diego, according to federal court records.

The federal courthouse in San Diego has been ground zero for the Navy corruption scandal since the Malaysian businessman Leonard Francis was taken into custody in 2013.

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