A U.S. Navy Commander admitted to taking bribes involving prostitutes, meals, entertainment, cash and other gifts amounting to a total of a quarter-million dollars from a foreign defense contractor in Singapore known as “Fat Leonard.”
On Wednesday, Commander Stephen Shedd, of the Navy’s Seventh Fleet, pleaded guilty to bribery charges involving him and nine other indicted members of Seventh Fleet leadership. Singapore-based defense contractor, Leonard Glenn Francis, supplied Shedd and others in the Navy with prostitutes, cash, food, entertainment, money for travel and hotels, and other gifts according to authorities.
“The defendant has admitted he was one of the many whose allegiance was switched from the Navy to Leonard Francis,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “This abdication of the defendant’s duties to the Navy and the United States comes with heavy consequences.”
Shedd’s plea was related to the ‘Fat Leonard’ scandal, which involved the Navy being overbilled by $35 million as Francis was awarded contracts as he bribed Navy officials. According to the Navy Times, 28 Navy personnel and defense contractors have admitted guilt to their roles in the scheme.
Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” was the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a defense contractor. A Malaysian citizen, he reportedly weighed about 350 pounds. Despite pleading guilty in 2015, he has not yet received a sentence.
During his time as commander, Shedd gave away confidential information to Francis about ship schedules and logistics. Shedd told prosecutors that he and his fellow defendants influenced the Navy to award contracts to GDMA. They also worked to “overlook inflated invoices” and “quash bid protests filed by GDMA’s competitors.”
“Cmdr. Shedd abused his high-level position in the Navy by illegally accepting lavish gifts from Mr. Francis in exchange for providing Mr. Francis classified ship schedules listing numerous ships, specific ports, and dates for the visits far in advance of ship visits,” said NCIS Director Omar Lopez.
“NCIS and our law enforcement partners are committed to rooting out bribery and corruption that wastes valuable U.S. taxpayer money and damages the integrity of the Navy,” Lopez continued.
The bribery scheme was described by a reporter for The Washington Post as “perhaps the worst national-security breach of its kind to hit the Navy since the end of the Cold War.”
Six more defendants from the Seventh Fleet face charges of “conspiring to trade military secrets and substantial influence for sex parties with prostitutes and luxurious dinners and travel, among other lavish things of value.”
These defendants include U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Bruce Loveless; Captains David Newland, James Dolan, David Lausman and Donald Hornbeck; and Commander Mario Herrera.
The Seventh Fleet is the biggest numbered fleet in the Navy with over 40,000 Sailors and Marines, 60 to 70 ships, and 200 to 300 aircraft. The fleet carries strategic importance as it patrols large areas of the Western Pacific including Southeast Asia, Pacific Islands, Australia, and Russia and the Indian Ocean regions.
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