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Navy captain pleads guilty to bribery count in "Fat Leonard" case

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Fat Leonard Podcast
Leonard Glenn Francis, also known as "Fat Leonard" at a Navy event.

A Navy captain pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge Wednesday for accepting lavish gifts in exchange for providing assistance to foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis and his ship husbanding company.

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Capt. Donald Hornbeck is the fourth member of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet to enter a guilty plea in connection with assisting Francis' Singapore- based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, in exchange for expensive meals, fancy hotel accommodations, prostitutes and other gifts.

According to prosecutors, Francis — who has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing — bribed Navy members in exchange for help maintaining contracts with the Navy, information regarding ship schedules and influence over ship movements.

According to a 2017 indictment and Hornbeck's plea agreement, the defendant used his position to help direct Navy ships to ports Francis controlled, allowing GDMA to provide services to the vessels. The U.S. Attorney's Office alleges GDMA overbilled the Navy by more than $35 million for those services.

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In exchange, prosecutors say Hornbeck and other Navy officers dined on numerous occasions at fancy restaurants and enjoyed stays at high-class hotels, while partying with prostitutes Francis paid for. The indictment outlines several of these events, including a three-day hotel stay at the Shangri-La in Manila in 2008, described as a "raging multi-day party" that led to room and alcohol charges exceeding $50,000.

Later that year, Francis emailed Hornbeck and co-defendant Cmdr. Stephen Shedd a naked picture of one of the prostitutes from Manila, and wrote, "I thought this photo will bring memories of the Ens[signs] in Manila. Especially Don." Francis additionally wrote to Hornbeck, "She misses you."

Hornbeck also asked Francis on multiple occasions if he could get a job with GDMA in San Diego after he left the Navy.

"[I]f there is anything I can do for you, please don't hesitate to ask," Hornbeck told Francis in a 2006 email, according to the indictment.

More than two dozen other people have also pleaded guilty in the case, while five other Seventh Fleet members are slated to go to trial, currently scheduled to begin next month in San Diego.