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Home / Fat Leonard

‘Fat Leonard’ shows in SD courtroom after alleged flight from US

Military contractor Leonard Glenn Francis appeared in a San Diego federal courtroom Thursday nearly nine years after pleading guilty to bribing Navy officials in a wide-ranging corruption scheme that became known as the “Fat Leonard” scandal.

Prosecutors said Thursday that they are seeking to have Francis sentenced on the charges he pleaded to in January of 2015 before possibly filing new charges in connection with his alleged flight from the country.

Francis was awaiting sentencing when officials say he cut off a GPS monitor he was required to wear and disappeared from his San Diego house arrest in September of 2022. He was arrested in Venezuela and brought back to the United States following a prisoner exchange between the two countries.

But Francis’ sentencing will not be imminent as his defense attorneys are seeking to withdraw from the case. If U.S. District Janis Sammartino approves the withdrawal, Francis’ new attorneys will require time to familiarize themselves with the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Sheppard argued in court that Francis’ current attorneys have been handling the case for several years and are best suited to handle the sentencing.

“Allowing withdrawal at this particular point in time provides a delay that could go on for quite some time,” he told Sammartino.

While the judge said Sheppard’s concerns were valid, she set another hearing in February to revisit the issue of Francis’ representation.

Francis pleaded guilty to bribing Navy officers with fancy hotel stays, meals and prostitutes in exchange for classified information, persuading them to direct aircraft carriers to ports he controlled so they could be resupplied by his Singapore-based husbanding company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. He also admitted overcharging the U.S. military for those services in an amount exceeding $35 million.

The prosecutions against Francis and numerous Navy officers he allegedly bribed resulted in guilty pleas from dozens of defendants and a jury trial that resulted in four officers convicted.

However, allegations of prosecutorial misconduct surfaced, leading to the dismissal of the four officers’ convictions and new guilty pleas to misdemeanor counts that resulted in no prison time. The government has since moved to dismiss the guilty plea of another Navy officer who testified at the trial and reduce the charges against other officers who pleaded guilty.

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