‘Fat Leonard’ Navy Scandal, Three current and former U.S. Navy officers appeared in federal court on Friday to face charges that they secretly worked on behalf of foreign defense contractor Glenn “Fat Leonard” Francis to advance the interests of his company, including instances in which a highly influential captain allowed Francis to ghostwrite official Navy documents and correspondence and submit them as his own.
In exchange, Francis plied the now-retired Capt. Michael Brooks, of Fairfax Station, Virginia, with prostitutes, luxury travel, a days-long party in a presidential suite and other gifts, according to authorities.
Also charged this week in the massive bribery and fraud scheme were Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, of Chesapeake, Virginia, and Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord, who is based in Singapore.
The charging documents allege that in return for lavish entertainment and travel expenses, the services of prostitutes and other illicit gifts, the defendants brazenly used their public offices to foist benefit after benefit upon Francis and Glenn Defense Marine Asia, including passing on sensitive internal U.S. Navy information to advance GDMA’s business interests and advocating for GDMA at every turn.
Brooks, 57, and Debord, 47, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery; Pitts, also 47, was charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of official proceedings. All of the charges relate to the defendants’ interactions with Francis, the former CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a defense contracting firm based in Singapore with a decades-long relationship with the U.S. Navy.
Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearance Friday in federal court in Virginia. Debord appeared in federal court in San Diego.
According to an indictment, from June 2006 to July 2008, Brooks served as the U.S. Naval Attache at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. In that position, Brooks served as the representative of the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the United Forces of the United States in Manila and also as the military advisor to the United States Ambassador.
The indictment alleges that in exchange for travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes – which Brooks and Francis referred to in code as “chocolate” or “mocha shakes” or “high tea” – Brooks used his office to benefit GDMA and Francis.
According to the indictment, Brooks secured quarterly diplomatic clearances for GDMA vessels, which allowed GDMA vessels to transit into and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic imprimatur of the U.S. Embassy; he limited the amount of custom fees and taxes that GDMA was required to pay in the Philippines; and enabled GDMA to avoid inspection of any quantity or type of cargo that it transported.