Nine Naval officers busted in contract scandal

Nine high-level Naval officers were charged Tuesday with federal crimes related to trading classified and internal defense information to a foreign defense contractor in exchange for lavish favors, including prostitutes.

The indictment is the latest resulting from a long-running corruption investigation by the Justice Department which charged that the officers, including one admiral, accepted cigars, dinners, hotel rooms and prostitutes from a Singapore-based defense contractor. To date, 25 people, many of them military personnel, have faced charges or pleaded guilty in the probe.

Director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Andrew Traver, said, “It’s unconscionable that some individuals choose to enrich themselves at the expense of military security.”

The investigation has focused on alleged favors given to Navy officers by defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis and his firm, Glenn Defense Marine Asia. In 2015 Francis pleaded guilty to bribery and conspiracy charges and currently awaits sentencing. Two additional executives from the company also entered guilty pleas, and two others have been charged.

Francis was charged with bribing officers to assist him in getting Navy ships to pay for the use of ports controlled by his company. The Navy officers supplied Francis with classified information, including ship schedules, and ensured that he was awarded high-price Navy contracts as they sabotaged the bids of other potential contractors. They also used false names and email accounts to facilitate the scheme which allegedly cost tens of millions of dollars.

Leonard-Francis-0918

Leonard Francis

The indicted officers were part of the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, which boasts 40,000 personnel, 60 ships and upwards of 200 aircraft in areas including Russia, Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.

Tuesday’s indictment alleged that Francis routinely provided prostitutes to Navy officials. One notable occasion involved a lavish, Francis-financed party with prostitutes in the MacArthur Suite of the Manila Hotel.

“During the party, historical memorabilia related to General Douglas MacArthur were used by participants in sexual acts,” according to the indictment.

Retired Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless, the highest-ranking officer charged in the indictment, was arrested in California Tuesday morning. In court, the magistrate entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.

H/T: The Wall Street Journal

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