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Retired Navy Admiral Among 9 Indicted In Bribery Case

Adm. Bruce Loveless is pictured in this undated photo.
U.S. Navy
Adm. Bruce Loveless is pictured in this undated photo.
Retired Navy Admiral Among 9 Indicted In Bribery Case
Retired Navy Admiral Among 9 Indicted In Bribery Case GUEST: Greg Moran, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

It is Wednesday, March 15. The top story on the date addition, the bribery case that cost taxpayers $20 million and he keeps growing. A retired admiral who served as the director of intelligence operations was arrested yesterday at his home. He was among nine table officers named in the federal indictment in the investigation that stretched on for four years. Greg has the comment. Welcome to the show. What is the scope of charges facing the officers? Back they are charged with a number of federal offenses and conspiracies and bribery and wire fraud and obstruction of justice. These are similar charges that others have faced in past. The man in the center of the case is a man named Linda. He owned a company called Defense Marine Asia. How does the government say he got the officers involved in the bribery scheme? It is a fascinating story. It is a disturbing story. It goes back a dozen years maybe longer. He has run this country for a number of years. As near as we can tell, it started with his desire and ability to apply officers and almost all of them are in the seventh Fleet in the Pacific with gifts and free dinners and things like that. Once he has his hooks into them, he began to do favors for him and give him information that helped his business out and eventually, as this metastasized over the years, they became advocates for the defense arena and ages business interest in the Navy. As farce the government asserts, some of the guests were scandalous in nature. Yesterday, it was interesting with the fact that it was heavily detailed. It was 78 pages long. It itemized everything from the menus that the officers were given and paid for at the restaurants across Asia. It was not just fancy food. It was cigars and $25,000 watches and jewelry. The most salacious details is the unending stream of prostitutes that were paid for allegedly for these officers who had been indicted so far. It is a laundry list of assorted gifts and details. Is the allegation that when Leonard got the contracts with the Navy, in exchange for these gifts, he overcharged the government as well? Back correct. That is the scheme of conspiracy. He would befriend or bribe the officers who would then give him information that advantaged the defense and they would use influence within the Navy. These were high up officers. Bruce Loveless is one of the highest-ranking but a lot of people are captains and commanders who had some influence over where ships in the fleet would go for appointments or visits that were important for the Navy. It is a form of diplomacy and also for the countries and the cities that host them. Leonard was a provider of services when ships came into port. He had certain inns and advantages at some ports around Asia. He wanted these people to steer as many boats as they could ships is a good to the ports. Once they were there, that is where the scheme began. He was systematically and couch and overbilled the Navy for all kinds of services like freshwater, sewage disposal and ground transportation and cell phones, security. You name it. Anything that the ship needs when it pulls and report, companies provide these and Leonard Wood -- it was not just a markup. It was inflated invoices with focus -- opus invoices and charging for services that were not provided. In total, how many individuals were charged? So far, the indictments are up to 25. But 20 are former or current naval officers. There is another piece of this going on inside the Navy. There is a report that dozens and dozens of admirals, a lot of people who may have received gifts from Leonard are not being charged criminally but are being handled through administrative discipline process with the Navy. If they'll get the, what is the maximum penalty they might face? Back it is hard to tell. It depends on what they plea to. It depends on the sentencing guidelines and it can be complicated. Criminal history and background if you cooperate or you don't or things like that, there are some people who are sentenced who got a few years in prison or three years in prison. It is based on conduct. Other people of not. It can run the gamut. Nobody will go to prison for life. Searchingly, they are in jeopardy of going into custody for a period of time. Clearly, whatever is left of the Navy career is over. I'm speaking with great with the San Diego Union Tribune. Thank you. You are welcome.

A retired Navy admiral was among nine high-ranking military officers arrested Tuesday across the country in a burgeoning bribery scandal involving a Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed "Fat Leonard."

The indictment unsealed in federal court in San Diego alleged that retired Adm. Bruce Loveless and the other officers accepted the services of prostitutes, lavish meals and fancy trips from Leonard Francis in exchange for classified information that helped his company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia.

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It was the latest indictment in the three-year-old case that has charged more than 20 former or current Navy officials so far and marks one of the Navy's worst corruption scandals in history. Loveless is the second admiral charged in the case. It is extremely rare for an admiral to face criminal proceedings.

Prosecutors say Francis, whose nickname comes from his wide birth, bilked the Navy out of nearly $35 million — largely by overcharging for his company's services supplying Navy ships in the Pacific with food, water, fuel and other necessities.

Navy officers provided classified information to Francis that helped him beat out the competition and in some instances commanders steered ships to ports in the Pacific where his company could charge fake tariffs and fees, prosecutors said.

The new indictment also charged a former Marine colonel.

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RELATED: Navy Fraud Case Of ‘Fat Leonard’ May Not Be Near End

The defendants were arrested Tuesday in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, Colorado and Virginia. Loveless was arrested at his home in Coronado across the bay from San Diego. None of the defendants or their defense attorneys could be immediately reached for comment.

"This is a fleecing and betrayal of the United States Navy in epic proportions, and it was allegedly carried out by the Navy's highest-ranking officers," said Acting U.S. Attorney Alana W. Robinson.

She added that "the alleged conduct amounts to a staggering degree of corruption by the most prominent leaders of the Seventh Fleet — the largest fleet in the U.S. Navy — actively worked together as a team to trade secrets for sex, serving the interests of a greedy foreign defense contractor, and not those of their own country."

Francis has pleaded guilty to fraud and is awaiting sentencing.

Twenty of the defendants are current or former U.S. Navy officials and five are company executives of the Singapore-based company. To date, 13 have pleaded guilty, including another admiral who was sentenced in June and is believed to be the first active-duty Naval flag officer charged in federal court. Several other cases are pending.

The indictment unsealed Tuesday says the defendants worked in concert to recruit others. Prosecutors said they used fake names and foreign email service providers to cover their tracks.