WASHINGTON — Three current and former US Navy officers were charged in federal court documents unsealed Friday for their roles in the wide-ranging Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) investigation, also known as the 'Fat Leonard' case after a nickname for GDMA's principal officer.
According to the US Department of Justice, retired Capt. Michael Brooks, 57, of Fairfax Station, Virginia; Cmdr. Bobby Pitts, 47, of Chesapeake, Virginia; and Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord, 47, based in Singapore, have been indicted in the Southern District of California. Brooks and Debord were each charged May 26 with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Pitts was charged the same day with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Brooks and Pitts made their initial appearances today in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia; Debord appeared in US District Court for the Southern District of California, the Justice Department said in a press release.
All of the charges, Justice said, relate to the defendants' interactions with Leonard Francis, the former CEO of GDMA, a maritime husbanding agency and defense contracting firm based in Singapore.
Including the three latest charges, 13 individuals have been charged in connection with GDMA schemes that include bribery, intelligence gathering, the use of prostitutes and more.
According to the indictment, Brooks served from June 2006 to July 2008 as the US naval attaché at the American embassy in Manila, Philippines. The indictment alleges that in exchange for travel and entertainment expenses, hotel rooms and the services of prostitutes, Brooks used his office to benefit GDMA and Francis, including securing quarterly diplomatic clearances for GDMA vessels – a status that allowed GDMA vessels to transit in and out of the Philippines under the diplomatic clearance of the US embassy.
Additionally, said Justice, Brooks limited the amount of custom fees and taxes GDMA was required to pay in the Philippines and enabled the company and its clients to avoid inspection of any quantity or type of cargo it transported. The indictment also alleges that Brooks provided Francis with sensitive Navy information, including billing information belonging to a GDMA competitor and Navy ship schedules.
Pitts, Justice said, was from August 2009 to May 2011 the officer in charge of the Navy's Fleet Industrial Supply Command (FISC), charged with meeting logistical needs of the US Seventh Fleet in the western Pacific. The indictment alleges that in exchange for entertainment, meals and the services of a prostitute, Pitts used his FISC position to interfere with NCIS investigations into GDMA.
Pitts, according to the press release, allegedly provided Francis with a hard copy of a Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) report marked "for official use only" detailing an investigation into GDMA for contract fraud. According to the indictment, the report detailed NCIS' investigative steps and witnesses that NCIS had interviewed. The indictment further alleges that in November 2010, Pitts forwarded to a GDMA employee an internal Navy email discussing details of FISC's efforts to oversee GDMA's US Navy contracts.
Debord, according to the criminal complaint, served from November 2007 to August 2013 in several logistical and supply positions in the Western Pacific. In exchange for cash, hotel stays and the services of prostitutes, Debord allegedly provided Francis with inside Navy information and documents, including information about competitors' bids and information about an investigation into GDMA billing practices.
Justice added that, in an attempt to conceal the true nature of his relationship with Francis, Debord allegedly referred to prostitutes as "cheesecake" or "bodyguards." The indictment also alleges that Debord schemed with Francis to defraud the Navy through the submission and approval of inflated invoices.
Brooks, according to his LinkedIn page, works as an emergency operations specialist for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and is cleared for top secret information with access to sensitive compartmented information. Prior to leaving the Navy in October 2011, according to his LinkedIn page, he was assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency while working as a naval attaché in Manila and before that, Islamabad, Pakistan. His listing for the posting at Manila notes that he "planned and coordinated US Navy ship visits and clearance request[s] and coordinated port integrated vulnerability assessments with Navy criminal investigative services office."
Of the 10 others charged in the GDMA investigation, nine have pleaded guilty, including Capt. Daniel Dusek, Cmdr. Michael Misiewicz, Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, Lt. Cmdr. Todd Malaki, Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug and NCIS Special Agent John Beliveau. Former Department of Defense Senior Executive Paul Simpkins is awaiting trial.
Layug was sentenced on Jan. 21 to 27 months in prison and a $15,000 fine. On Jan. 29, Malaki was sentenced to 40 months in prison, payment of $15,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $15,000 fine.
Alex Wisidagama, a former GDMA employee, was sentenced on March 18 to 63 months and to pay $34.8 million in restitution to the Navy. Dusek, on March 25, was sentenced to 46 months in prison, payment of $30,000 in restitution to the Navy and a $70,000 fine. On April 29, Misiewicz was sentenced to 78 months in prison, a fine of $100,000 and forfeiture of $95,000 in proceeds for the scheme.
Making the announcement for the investigative team were Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division, US Attorney Laura Duffy of the Southern District of California, Acting Director Dermot O'Reilly of the Department of Defense's Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Director Andrew Traver of NCIS and Director Anita Bales of Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).
NCIS, DCIS and DCAA are conducting the ongoing investigation, according to the press release. Assistant Chief Brian Young of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section and Assistant US Attorney Mark Pletcher of the Southern District of California are prosecuting the case.