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Four of five Navy officers convicted in 'Fat Leonard' bribery case

Courtesy of Krentz Johnson
A courtroom sketch dated April 4, 2022 is shown above. From left to right: Special Agent Cordel De la Pena, Michael Crawley, Hon Janis Sammartino, David Newland and David Lausman.

Four of five former Navy officers charged with accepting bribes from foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn "Fat Leonard" Francis were convicted Wednesday by a San Diego federal jury.

Prosecutors allege the defendants, former members of the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet, took bribes in exchange for providing Francis with classified information regarding ship schedules and used their positions in the Navy to influence the movements of ships to ports serviced by Francis' Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Prosecutors allege GDMA overbilled the Navy by more than $35 million to provide husbanding services.

The trial, which began in February, resulted in convictions for conspiracy, bribery and other charges against former Cmdr. Mario Herrera and former Capts. David Newland, James Dolan and David Lausman. Jurors were unable to reach a verdict against former Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless.

The U.S. Attorney's Office alleged that, in exchange for steering business toward GDMA, the officers accepted expensive meals, fancy hotel accommodations and the services of sex workers, all on Francis' dime. Prosecutors said the men operated at Francis' beck and call, referring to him in correspondence as "Admiral," "Emperor" and "Boss."

Francis and more than two dozen others have pleaded guilty in connection with the case. Many of those who pleaded guilty testified at trial, though Francis, who has not yet been sentenced, was not called to the stand as initially planned.

Defense attorneys for the former officers argued that Francis and others who pleaded guilty implicated their clients to avoid harsher punishment. They also alleged their clients lacked the ability to influence Navy procedures to the degree prosecutors claimed, and that any relationship they may have had with Francis was above board.