“Fat Leonard,” the flamboyant defense contractor who admitted bribing top Navy brass with booze and hookers in a $35 million scheme and bolted while awaiting sentencing earlier this month, was nabbed in Venezuela on Tuesday morning as he tried to flee to Russia.
The Malaysian national, whose real name is Leonard Glenn Francis, was captured at the Caracas airport as he prepared to flee the South American country for Russia, Interpol said. Francis, 58, had been in U.S. custody, but earlier this month cut off his ankle monitor while under house arrest in San Diego and slipped out of the country, sparking an international manhunt.
“Francis Leonard Glenn had entered the country from Mexico with a stopover in Cuba, to then continue with his final destination to the federative republic of Russia, the fugitive was arrested at the Simón Bolívar de Maiquetía international airport when he was about to leave the country,” Interpol Venezuela Director General Carlos Garate Rondon wrote in an Instagram post.
‘Fat Leonard’ Francis captured in South America after flight to avoid sentence in Navy corruption scandal https://t.co/AzVehwoUS5
— UPI.com (@UPI) September 22, 2022
Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to playing Navy officials with cash, prostitutes, and expensive dinners to help his Singapore-based ship servicing company, Glenn Defense Marine Asia, land contracts. Prosecutors claim the company bilked the Navy out of $35 million for servicing ships. Francis was to be sentenced this month, after cooperating with prosecutors for years to secure convictions of dozens of people, including more than 20 Navy officers.
The plea deal called for Francis to repay the government the $35 million, but so far he has only repaid $5 million.
Last year, Francis bragged about his lucrative scheme in a Project Brazen podcast series.
“Everybody was in my pocket. I had them rolling around in my palm. I had the Navy by their balls. I turned my torpedo, my guns against them, because they betrayed me,’ Francis says in one episode of a nine-part series.
Francis, who owns his own decommissioned U.S. war ship and is reportedly obsessed with American culture, described how he targeted Navy Commander Michael Misiewicz by providing him with prostitutes and infiltrating his inner circle of family and friends.
“They wanted to have the good life that they could not have,” Francis said. “They wanted the fine dining, the fine gifts, hotel rooms, sedans, luxury cars, watches, handbags, fancy meals, alcohol, cigars.”
But the Misiewicz operation was Fat Leonard’s downfall. When the Navy man’s wife, Marcy, confronted her husband about her suspicions he was cheating, he beat her. She reported him to Navy officials, who launched an investigation that uncovered damning emails.
Misiewicz was sentenced to over six years in prison.
Francis has claimed that senior admirals bribed were protected by the Pentagon.
“Some of the more senior admirals got handled by the Navy because then they can be brushed under the carpet, it’s little more than a slap on the wrist, they call it ‘different spanks for different ranks,” he said in the podcast series.