Navy Officer Accused Of Taking Bribes Appears In Federal San Diego Court
A Navy commander charged with accepting the services of prostitutes, luxury travel and $100,000 in cash from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for classified information made his first appearance in a San Diego courtroom Wednesday and was given a Dec. 5 arraignment date.
Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, 41, was arrested in Tampa on Nov. 6.
At Wednesday's bond hearing, Magistrate Judge David Bartick maintained the same conditions that were set in the Middle District of Florida last month.
Those bond conditions include $100,000 secured by real property -- Sanchez's residence in Albuquerque, N.M. -- as well as GPS tracking and travel restrictions.
Bartick decided that it was appropriate to continue the GPS monitoring despite arguments from Sanchez's attorneys that he reconsider.
Also charged in the same complaint as Sanchez is Leonard Glenn Francis, 49, of Malaysia -- the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Francis was arrested in San Diego on Sept. 16 after Navy officials summoned him from Singapore to California to discuss business face-to-face. He is set to make his initial appearance before Bartick tomorrow.
Two other senior Navy officials -- Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz and Naval Criminal Investigative Service Supervisory Special Agent John Bertrand Beliveau II -- are charged separately in connection with bribery allegations.
"According to the allegations in this case, a number of officials were willing to sacrifice their integrity and millions of taxpayer dollars for personal gratification," U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy said.
"While the overwhelming majority of the 400,000 active-duty Navy personnel conduct themselves in a manner that is beyond reproach, we and our law enforcement partners at Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Defense Criminal Investigative Service continue to investigate the allegations of fraud and corruption that tarnish the stellar reputation of the U.S. Navy," she said.
Prosecutors allege Sanchez received bribes in return for sending sensitive U.S. Navy information about ship movements to Francis and for steering ships to locations that would benefit Francis' company, GDMA, a multinational corporation and longtime government contractor based in Singapore.
GDMA provides hundreds of millions of dollars of "husbanding" services for the U.S. Navy in at least a dozen countries throughout the Pacific.
Husbanding involves supplying food, water, fuel, tugboats and fenders, security, transportation, trash and liquid waste removal, and other goods and services to ships and submarines in foreign ports.
Court records allege that the conspiracy started in 2009, when Sanchez was the deputy logistics officer for the commander of the U.S. Navy Seventh Fleet in Yokohama, Japan, and continued when he was transferred to serve as director of operations for Fleet Logistics Command in Singapore, until he transferred to Florida in April of this year.
Sanchez and Francis allegedly communicated regularly via email and Facebook. Sanchez referred to Francis as "Lion King" and "Boss" in the emails, while Francis called Sanchez "brudda," according to court papers.
GDMA, which has operating locations in Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and the United States, overcharged the Navy and submitted bogus invoices for millions of dollars in services, the complaint alleges.
Like Sanchez, Misiewicz is accused of providing sensitive Navy information to Francis and secretly working on behalf of GDMA in exchange for prostitutes and luxury travel.
According to court papers, Francis began "targeting" Misiewicz, then-commander of the destroyer USS Mustin, in 2010 "as someone who might be susceptible to providing favor ... in return for things of value."
Born Vannak Khem in Cambodia, Misiewicz was adopted at age 6 by a U.S.
Embassy worker and moved to Illinois just before his homeland plunged into a bloody communist revolution. He went on to graduate from the prestigious Naval Academy in Annapolis and returned to Cambodia for the first time on a port visit in December 2010.
Shortly after the Cambodia port call, Misiewicz took an influential job as deputy operations manager for the Navy's 7th Fleet, overseeing all naval activities in the western Pacific and Indian oceans.
For his part, Beliveau allegedly fed Francis confidential information about pending criminal investigations into GDMA from March 2011 until this year, in exchange for prostitutes and free travel.