Fugitive in massive Navy corruption case arrested in Venezuela

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SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Malaysian defense contractor nicknamed “Fat Leonard” who orchestrated one of the biggest corruption scandals in U.S. military history has been arrested in Venezuela after fleeing before his sentencing, it was announced Wednesday authorities.

The international manhunt for Leonard Glenn Francis ended with his arrest by Venezuelan authorities on Tuesday morning at Caracas airport as he was about to board a plane for another country, the official said. U.S. Marshals Service.

The arrest came on the eve of his scheduled sentencing in federal court in California for a bribery scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved dozens of US Navy officers.

It was not immediately known when he might be extradited to the United States.

Francis was under house arrest in San Diego when he cut off his GPS ankle strap and escaped on September 4. Ten US agencies searched for Francis, and authorities issued a $40,000 reward for his arrest.

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US authorities have also issued a red notice, which asks law enforcement agencies around the world to provisionally arrest a person with the possibility of extradition. Malaysia and Singapore both have extradition agreements with the United States.

Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to offering prostitution services, luxury hotels, cigars, gourmet meals and more than $500,000 in bribes to Navy officials and others to help his Singapore-based ship maintenance company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia Ltd. or GDMA. Prosecutors said the company overcharged the Navy by at least $35 million for maintaining ships, many of which were routed to ports it controlled in the Pacific.

Francis had been allowed to remain housebound to receive medical treatment while he cooperated with the prosecution. With his help, prosecutors secured convictions for 33 of the 34 defendants, including more than two dozen naval officers.

Copyright 2022 The Associated press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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