A former commander has become the latest U.S. Navy official to plead guilty in a wide-ranging corruption and fraud investigation involving the foreign defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard”.
In what has become the largest corruption scandal in U.S. Navy history, former U.S. Navy commander Troy Amundson pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit bribery, admitting that he conspired with foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, a.k.a. “Fat Leonard,” and his Singapore-based company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), to take bribes such as entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes in exchange for sending business to the GDMA.
So far, 20 of the 29 defendants charged in the scandal have pleaded guilty, including Francis who in 2015 admitted to presiding over a decade-long conspiracy involving scores of U.S. Navy officials, tens of millions of dollars in fraud and millions of dollars in bribes and gifts – from cash, prostitutes and luxury travel to Cuban cigars, Kobe beef and Spanish suckling pigs, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
According to admissions made as part of his guilty plea, Amundson served from May 2005 to May 2013 as the officer responsible for coordinating the U.S. Navy’s joint military exercises with its foreign navy counterparts. Part of his duties included building and maintaining relationships with the U.S. Navy’s foreign navy exercise partners.
Amundson admitted that from September 2012 through October 2013 Francis paid for dinner, drinks, transportation
, entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes for Amundson and other U.S. Navy officers. In return confidential, proprietary U.S. Navy information was passed to Francis along with numerous other actions performed in favor of ship support contractor GDMA.
In one instance, Amundson wrote to Francis from a private e-mail account, arranging to provide Francis with internal, proprietary U.S. Navy information: “Handoff?... [M]y [friend], your program is awesome. I [Amundson] am a small dog just trying to get a bone… however I am very happy with my small program. I still need five minutes to pass some data when we can meet up. Cannot print.” That night, Francis arranged the services of several prostitutes from Mongolia for Amundson.
Amundson was interviewed by federal criminal investigators in October 2013, and as part of his plea agreement admitted that he deleted all of his private e-mail account correspondence with Francis following his interview with law enforcement agents earlier that same day.
“Amundson deliberately, methodically and repeatedly traded his public office for entertainment expenses and the services of prostitutes, and in so doing, aligned himself with a foreign defense contractor over his Navy, his colleagues and his country,” said U.S. Attorney Adam Braverman. “We are pressing forward in this investigation until we are certain that all involved have been held accountable.”
Sentencing is scheduled for April 27, 2018. Amundson faces maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.