The Fat Leonard Scandal Ensnares US Ally

Just when you think you have heard the end of one scandal and are waiting for the next, new information and a new target jumps up and reminds you of the scope of what is the U.S. Navy’s largest scandal since the Cold War. Fat Leonard isn’t over; it is still there waiting.

So far, 28 people have been charged with various crimes concerning the scandal. Another five have been charged under the UCMJ, and several admirals have been reprimanded for their involvement with Glen Defense Marine Asia (GDMA). The number of people under investigation ranges in the hundreds.
GDMA is a ship support contractor that is based in Singapore but accepts contracts throughout the Pacific. In a nutshell, Leonard Glen Francis – the aforementioned ‘Fat Leonard’ and the owner of Glenn Marine Group and its subsidiary GDMA – bribed numerous Naval officials for information about upcoming port visits, padded defense contracts and exploited the supply contract system to defraud the US Navy of millions of dollars.

Francis was arrested in 2013 and plead guilty to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery, and conspiracy to defraud the United States. He is currently in prison awaiting sentencing in June 2018. With his arrest, federal prosecutors began filing charges against the people he had bribed. These include commanding officers of several ships and acquisition officers involved in scheduling port visits and awarding contracts.

The highest ranked Naval officer charged was Rear Admiral Robert Gilbeau. As the former special assistant to the chief of the Navy Supply Corps, he admitted to concealing the length and details of his relationship with Francis and destroying files and computer records after Francis was arrested.

The extent of the scandal has expanded this week as ABC Australia revealed that an Australian naval officer, Lieutenant Commander Alex Gillett, has been implicated in the scandal. Although Gillett has not been indicted the ongoing nature of the investigation means that more indictments will be forthcoming.

Obviously, the federal prosecutors are not done with their investigations and as more sailors and contractors are arrested and charged the investigation will expand to cover their contracts. Testimony and deals will bring more conspirators out into the open.

The Fat Leonard scandal is a national embarrassment, and the aftereffects will change the naval culture as much as the Walker Spy Ring in the 1980s or the Tailhook Scandal in the 1990s. Changing a corrupt culture is a positive aspect, but the cost to the Navy is high and only going to get more expensive. As the evidence of this corruption spreads to other nation’s militaries, it remains to be seen how well and quickly they will change the way they do business.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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